Business chiefs and MPs ask Boris Johnson to resume foreign travel

‘Let’s get Britain flying now!’: Business chiefs and MPs write letter to Boris Johnson warning him that more than a million jobs are at risk unless he speeds up plans to fully reopen our skies

  • Business leaders & MPs united in plea to Boris Johnson to resume foreign travel 
  • Warned millions of jobs at risk if Prime Minister did not get Britain flying again 
  • PM has pencilled in May 17 as the earliest date when foreign travel could resume

Business leaders last night united with MPs to plead with the Prime Minister to resume foreign travel.

They warned that more than a million jobs were at risk if Boris Johnson failed to get Britain flying again.

In letter to the PM, they said firms across the country faced devastation if planes were kept grounded.

Business leaders have united with MPs warning the Prime Minister that millions of jobs are at risk if Britain does not get flying again. Pictured: Passengers arrive at Heathrow last summer

The PM has pencilled in May 17 as the earliest date when foreign travel could resume, but there are fears he will push this back as the continent is hit by a third coronavirus wave.

Mr Johnson will give an update on his plans on Monday, but sources say he is likely to declare it is still too early to set a firm date for when borders can reopen.

Following pleas from a group of 40 MPs on Monday, industry leaders from the British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and UK Hospitality said the economic recovery would be put at risk if overseas trips remained illegal.

‘If we cannot start flying again this summer, the further damage to UK businesses large and small would be severe,’ they wrote.

The PM has pencilled in May 17 as the earliest date when foreign travel could resume, but there are fears he will push this back as the continent is hit by a third coronavirus wave

‘Aviation is vital to the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Our air links are not a frivolous luxury. 

‘They connect Britain with the world and link British products, experiences and expertise with billions of potential buyers overseas.’

Masks are law on las playas 

Holidaymakers must wear face masks on Spanish beaches this summer – even while sunbathing, officials said yesterday.

Children over the age of six will be included in the rule, the country’s government announced.

Tourists breaking the law, which comes into force today, could be fined £85.

The rule applies across Spain, including the Costa del Sol and Canary Islands.

Masks will not be needed while swimming in the sea or exercising outdoors.

The business groups said the success of the vaccine rollout ‘should allow us to push on with rebuilding the businesses, jobs and livelihoods that have been hit so hard by our forced isolation’.

Their warning was boosted by research showing the economy will take a £47.6 billion hit if Mr Johnson delays the resumption of foreign travel from May 17 until the end of the year – the equivalent of £200 million a day.

The study commissioned by Airlines UK, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester Airports Group warned this would put more than a million jobs at risk across the economy, including 125,000 in the international tourism sector.

The report stated that ‘plotting a clear course out of lockdown for the aviation industry… is vital not only for the survival of the industry itself but also for the recovery of the wider UK economy’.

‘The UK is, fundamentally, a trading nation and has been for centuries. Its wealth and prosperity are inextricably linked to its ability to interact with global markets. Without air travel, this ability is severely limited.

‘It needs to be remembered that air travel is not just about holidays. A significant proportion of passengers travel for business and air transport also plays a central role in moving cargo around the world. 

‘The UK’s ability to develop export markets, to source materials and expertise from overseas, to attract foreign direct investment, and to bring international visitors to the country is dependent on air travel. 

‘The longer that the reopening of international travel is delayed, the greater the economic cost will be to the UK’s economy.’

Following pleas from a group of 40 MPs on Monday, industry leaders from the British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and UK Hospitality said the economic recovery would be put at risk if overseas trips remained illegal. Pictured: Passengers at Heathrow in February

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘There are tens of thousands of jobs dependent upon aviation and restarting travel, and the sector cannot survive another lost summer with little or no revenue. 

‘We can do this proportionately and in a risk-based way – it’s not a question of opening up the border to every country out there.

‘Where it is safe to do so we need to start the process of opening up. We cannot with a straight face talk about Global Britain without aviation.’

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon fuelled suspicions Mr Johnson will delay plans to resume foreign holidays, saying: ‘The four-nations discussions we’ve had in recent weeks would make me sceptical about whether international travel would resume in England from May 17.’

Dear Prime Minister

Aviation is vital to the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Our air links are not a frivolous luxury. 

They connect Britain with the world and link British products, experiences and expertise with billions of potential buyers overseas. 

Pre-pandemic, some 49 per cent of the total value of UK exports outside of the EU travelled by air – a majority on board passenger aircraft.

If we cannot start flying again this summer, the further damage to UK businesses large and small would be severe – hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, hospitality devastated, exporters unable to move their goods.

A safe, managed restart is the way forward, with restrictions remaining on high-risk countries, but air links re-established where the risks of variants is low and where the UK’s vaccination success should allow us to push on with rebuilding the businesses, jobs and livelihoods that have been hit so hard by our forced isolation.

Yours sincerely

  • Adam Marshall, director-general, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UK Hospitality
  • Miles Celic, chief executive, TheCityUK
  • Jace Tyrell, chief executive, New West End Company
  • Clive Memmott, chief executive, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
  • Kurt Janson, director, Tourism Alliance
  • Duncan Edwards, chief executive, British American Business
  • Joss Croft, chief executive, UKInbound
  • John Dickie, director of strategy and policy, London First
  • Paul Barnes, chief executive, Association of International Retail

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