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Published on Friday, June 5, 2020

Agents give 'air bridge' wishlist to Home Secretary






Advantage Travel Partnership and the SPAA have identified a wishlist of 10 countries they want the Government to prioritise when air bridges are put into place.

In a letter to the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary today, they said although they were disappointed the mandatory 14-day quarantine would start on Monday as planned, they were 'heartened' by the promise that air bridges would be considered in the future.

"The establishment of air bridges sooner rather than later is critical to allow the industry to get back on its feet after a prolonged period of stalemate during lockdown," said the letter.

"However, whilst we welcome air bridges they will only work if the FCO ban on travel is reviewed in conjunction with their creation. It is the ultimate chicken and egg situation, and without the FCO ban revoked (even if it is just to those destinations with air bridges as a phased approach) the industry will lack the appropriate tools to sell holidays with confidence and their customers will have no recourse to adequate insurance."

Advantage said it has drawn up a list of key destination based on extensive consumer research survey with over 4,000 respondents, intelligence from industry partners, sales figures from 2019, and on potential routes ready to fly and tour operators ready with packages to sell.

The key destinations are as follows:

1. Spain
2. Greece
3. Turkey
4. Italy
5. Cyprus
6. Portugal
7. France
8. Iceland
9. Egypt
10. Malta


Earlier this week Advantage, the SPAA, the Business Travel Association, AITO and the HBAA sent another letter to the Government urging them not to go ahead with the plans for a mandatory 14-quarantine for most UK arrivals, which comes into force on Monday


They said the plans were 'draconian, short sighted strategies' and would damage the travel and tourism industry and the wider UK economy.


Meanwhile, Travel Counsellors has been urging its business owners to write to their MPS to lobby them to drop the quarantine and the blanket FCO ban.


The Government says it will review the quarantine every three weeks and confirmed it is already in talks with some destinations about air bridges or 'travel corridors'.


Major airlines, including easyJet and Virgin Atlantic, reportedly had a telephone meeting with the Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday to discuss the quarantine.


British Airways' parent IAG was notably absent from the meeting and although it refused to give a reason, it is believed it was annoyed that it wasn't involved in earlier consultations. A source reportedly told the BBC the airline felt the meeting was 'a waste of time'.


 

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  • A generic list

    It is great to see Spain at the top of the list and the airbridge scheme a possibility, reducing or revoking the 14 day quarantine, but the list should not be so generic. Although belonging to Spain, the Canaries have had very few problems with the Covid 19 virus. Specifically the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, both favourite destinations for all europeans. Fuerteventura has had a total of 47 confirmed cases since the outbreak, no deaths and has only 1 elderly person in hospital. The government, and agents should consider the possibility of starting direct flights as soon as possible.

    By Elaine Molyneux, Friday, June 5, 2020

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