England lockdown: 'Hundreds of thousands of jobs' at risk, airlines warn

31 October 2020, 22:29 | Updated: 1 November 2020, 09:01

Aviation leaders are warning of little hope of recovery
Aviation leaders are warning of little hope of recovery. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Travel firms have warned of a “complete shutdown” across the industry when England enters a second national lockdown next week.

Travel and overnight stays in the UK and abroad will be restricted when the “stay home” instruction comes into force from Thursday until 2 December.

According to Government guidance issued on Saturday night: “This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.”

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said the rules “will mean a complete shutdown for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic”, but added “public health must come first”.

Budget airline easyJet has called for “urgent” support for the sector, similar to that which has been provided to hospitality.

Read more: England to enter second national lockdown lasting until December

Read more: What you can and can't do under England lockdown rules

The firm's chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “Given the steps the Government has taken, which essentially prevents air travel in the UK, our call for sector specific support has never been more urgent.

“The Government has recognised the need to directly support the hospitality sector, where decisions have directly affected its ability to trade.

“The same principle needs to be applied to aviation. The Government’s own statistics show that activity in aviation is already 90% down on pre-pandemic levels, yet to date the Government has still failed to provide any sector specific support.”

The sentiments were echoed by Airlines UK, which said: “Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover.”

The trade body has called for “a comprehensive restart package” for the industry.

It said in a statement: “This needs to include immediate additional economic support for the winter and steps to support recovery, including urgent rollout of a testing regime, business rates relief for airports, and an emergency waiver of Air Passenger Duty that will be essential for enabling and stimulating international travel – absolutely vital for the UK economy – for as long as we are living with this virus.

“Hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economic recovery are on the line.”

The measures in full lasting from Thursday until December 2:

- Stay at home unless for education, for work if you cannot work from home, for exercise, for medical reasons, to shop for food and essentials, to care for others

- Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed. Click and collect can continue and essential shops such as supermarkets will remain open. Bars, pubs and restaurants must stay closed except for delivery or take-away services. Hairdressers and beauty salons will close.

- Schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Childminders and nurseries will stay open and childcare bubbles, where for example a grandparent provides childcare while a parent works, will be able to continue. After-school clubs and sports clubs will be suspended.

- People are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons. People can travel for work. Anyone on holiday will be allowed to return to the UK.