Stansted boss slams government for ‘illogical and chaotic’ approach to travel quarantine
PUBLISHED: 09:27 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:56 27 August 2020
A leading travel boss at Stansted Airport has called for an end to the government’s “illogical and chaotic” approach to travel quarantines.
In an open letter published today Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted’s parent company Manchester Airport Groups, slammed the government for their quarantine scheme.
Currently, those travelling back into the UK from countries with high Coronavirus R rates such as France, Sweden and The Netherlands need to quarantine for two weeks or face fines of up to £1,000.
Mr Cornish said the number of passengers travelling through Stansted Airport this weekend will be less than a third of the 280,000 who passed through the terminal in 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Cornish said: “The impact of Covid-19 – and quarantine restrictions - on the travel industry is clear for all to see. “It is evident in the tens of thousands of job losses that have already been announced and the millions of holidays already cancelled.
“This is an industry that collectively supports around 2m jobs, with London Stansted alone making an economic contribution of £1bn to the UK each year.
“Some will point to positive news about Portugal becoming restriction-free again, but with so little of our summer remaining, so many popular destinations needlessly closed-off, so many jobs at risk and so little confidence our Prime Minister understands this urgency, you can understand why our industry feels left behind.”
The tourism boss also highlighted the contrast between the British government’s plans and those of other European countries.
He added: “This in stark contrast to the approach we have seen taken by numerous governments around the world, whose decisive action to protect their aviation sectors makes clear how much value they attach to them.
“From the very start of this pandemic, we have appealed for a support package for airports. But our request for business rates relief was ignored, despite lockdown.
“By contrast, Germany has secured EU State Aid approval, in order to compensate airports for lost revenue and protect their futures.
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“We see no signs that it wants to avoid further jobs losses, or an appreciation of the critical role airports will have in the economic revival of regions across the country as we gingerly emerge from this crippling pandemic.”
It has been reported this week that the government was due to hold a meeting on Monday with a view to taking a more realistic and passenger-friendly approach to quarantine decisions.
However, according to Mr Cornish, the meeting didn’t happen, and it has been rescheduled to today.
“It’s not the first time a critical decision in this area has been put off, with no credible explanation for the delay,” Mr Cornish wrote.
“The failure to recognise the need for direct financial support was disappointing to say the least, but perhaps not surprising when you consider our government already places its airports at a competitive disadvantage by levying some of the highest passenger taxes in the world.
“But the impact of this decision has been amplified many times over by its sluggish, chaotic and illogical approach to travel restrictions, an area where we have watched other nations move quickly and decisively while our government has remained in its own decision-making lockdown.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said:“The Government recognises the impact that coronavirus is having on the economy and workers, and has put together an extensive package of financial support to help the aviation sector.”
“Public health remains the UK’s top priority and we are committed to tackling this virus while enabling a sustainable and responsible return to international travel.”
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