Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

ABTA asks Government for more salary support


ABTA has asked the Chancellor to extend the Government's Job Retention Scheme for the UK travel industry, arguing that travel companies will emerge from the current crisis much slower than other sectors of the UK economy. 

It is also asking the Treasury to relax the current scheme so furloughed staff can continue to handle customer queries.

Under the Job Retention Scheme, the Treasury will cover up to 80% of a worker's wages, up to £2,500 a month, until the end of June, but only if they aren't required to work. The furlough scheme was introduced to prevent companies making staff redundant during the lockdown.

However, ABTA said staff are needed to help companies 'pursue suppliers for refunds which can then be passed on to customers'.

"ABTA is seeking support for travel businesses through what it expects to be a prolonged recovery period, as destinations across the globe gradually lift their own restrictions and consumer confidence returns."

ABTA head of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: "The Government furlough scheme has provided a much-needed lifeline to travel companies encountering significant financial challenges as the lockdown on international and domestic travel continues. Without the scheme, we would have seen thousands of job losses across the travel industry.

"However, the existing rules are overly restrictive and ABTA urges ministers to relax the requirement which prevents furloughed staff from carrying out even non-revenue raising duties. Travel agents and tour operators are much needed right now, to assist with the disruption Covid-19 has caused travellers. Enabling these staff to go back to work will provide immediate benefits to customers whose holidays have been affected."

The Chancellor has already indicated that he is open to extending the scheme beyond the end of June, and ABTA said it is important that this includes putting in place a plan for economic recovery. 

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