The aim of the movement is to put pressure on the government to expand the green list and remove restrictions
The UK’s travel industry is holding a day of action today (June 23), which will see airport staff, trade bodies, pilots and cabin crew be among those urging the government to reopen the sector and provide more support to businesses.
Staff working at the three hubs operated by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) plan to stage a pre-pandemic day of flying on social media as part of the national campaign.
The employees have begun posting images of themselves on Twitter to mark the 651 flights that would have taken off from the sites on June 23, 2019.
Comparatively, today only 124 aircraft will depart from all three airports combined.
Each photograph will contain a staff member holding a placard with the campaign’s hashtag ‘#traveldayofaction’, with one being posted on social media every time a flight would have departed on this day two years ago.
“Aviation has been the sector hardest hit by the pandemic, yet government does not seem to appreciate its economic value or trust its own system for the restart of international travel,” explained Charlie Cornish, MAG Group CEO.
“Despite holding back the recovery of an industry that supports more than one million jobs, and generates billions of pounds of value, there has been nowhere near the level of support offered to other parts of the economy.”
Cornish goes further to suggest that the UK government has left the industry with “no option” but to challenge its “lack of transparency”.
Other demonstrations, orchestrated by the group, are also set to take place, including a peaceful protest at the Manchester Airport outside Terminal 3, a march at Stansted and East Midlands have created a photo opportunity whereby passengers can pose on sun lounges in summer clothes as they get ready to go nowhere.
MAG has recently launched a legal campaign, alongside Ryanair, against the government over the traffic light system. This aims to force the ministers to reveal how countries are categorised into the green, amber and red travel lists.
Doncaster/Sheffield has also joined the aviation trade bodies in protest, calling for ministers to extend the furlough scheme and provide tailored financial support to the industry.
Robert Hough, chairman of Peel Airports, said the hub is asking for “clarity and transparency” regarding the re-opening international travel.
He added: “Regional airports are vital not only for getting passengers on their well-earned summer holidays to spend time with their families. They also have an important economic role to play in the regions they serve too, providing jobs and acting as a catalyst for economic growth. We trust that the Government will take note of the day of action and offer vital support and clarity for safe international travel in time for the peak summer season along with other parts of Europe.”
Earlier this month, the northern hub expressed its concern towards the implemented travel restrictions by speaking to Robert Courts, the parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Transport.
DSA stressed to the minister that more support should be provided to the sector due to the limited options currently on the ‘green list’, as it further stated that it couldn’t keep up with the amber list’s growing demand.
Glasgow Airport is also contributing to the movement, with staff expected to congregate at the hub at 2pm today to spell out ‘HELP’ with unused vehicles. This aims to raise awareness of how Covid-19 has impacted the industry.
“With no clear recovery plan on the horizon and a lack any significant and meaningful support from government, the thousands of people currently working within our industry face an uncertain future,” reiterated Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports.
The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) are also standing with the sector and urging MPs to re-open international travel, taking their message directly to ministers at Westminster.
Brian Strutton, BALPA acting general secretary, feels the government has been presented an ultimatum to either “make or break the UK travel industry”.
“With a robust and open approach to the data we should be able to use the science to open-up safe travel routes with the US and many European destinations, just as other European countries have done. This would give the travel industry and passengers a chance to make something the best of the summer and start to stem the decline.”
The international travel list’s next review is set to take place tomorrow (June 24), with the sector hoping for more countries to be added to the restriction-free category.