Airlines UK today said new rules for fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU have led to a “300% increase” in bookings to American destinations, but warned that government handling of France was a “total disaster” for the industry.
It comes as from 4am on Monday, new rules came into effect meaning that fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU no longer have to isolate when they arrive in the UK. But the rules have not yet been reciprocated for UK travellers.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said he welcomed the change and reported a significant increase in bookings to the US.
He told Times Radio:
I think the announcement this morning is very welcome – there will be an uptick in bookings.
We’ve seen from the US around a 300% increase in bookings to the US – but we’ve got to somehow try to find a way to get more countries on the green list and we absolutely should not be going down the road of adding more tiers to an already very complicated international travel system.
But he said the government’s handling of France, sparking a diplomatic row after putting the country on the “amber-plus” travel list, had badly dented consumer confidence.
Because of the way the government has looked at things over the past couple of weeks with the France decision, which was a total disaster in terms of consumer confidence because people now think with amber, there’s a good chance that whether there’s a watch list or not, that they will be stranded, and that is a real dampener in terms of bookings.
We’ve now only got six to eight weeks until the end of the summer, and tens of thousands of jobs are under threat in the travel and aviation sector.
Until today, only travellers who had received both doses in the UK were able to arrive from amber countries – including the US and much of the EU – without needing to isolate for 10 days.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.”
Meanwhile, the Labour party chair, Anneliese Dodds, has called on the government to be “open and transparent” about travel rules.
Asked this morning whether an amber watchlist should be introduced, she told Times Radio:
Well, no, we don’t want to see additional confusion and chaos here … We’ve been here before, we’ve been in this chaos before, and yet government seems to be providing just more of the same, more confusion, more extra categories.
What we’ve said for months as the Labour party is that the Conservative government need to be open and transparent, they need to be actually publishing the data that they’re taking their decisions on.
She said the government should be seeking international agreement on vaccine passports, which she said “they’ve said they’re trying to do, but we’ve seen no evidence of progress there”. She also called for “more openness” to “build trust in the system”.
The problem is, right now holidaymakers just don’t know who to believe and we’ve got … seem to have the chancellor briefing against the prime minister in the Sunday papers. That’s not building confidence, ultimately, in the system.
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