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UK airports call for 'urgent' government support after travel rules tightened

Sat, 16th Jan 2021 11:21

By David Milliken

LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - British airports called for
urgent government support and an airline industry representative
said the sector was heading for a "very difficult" place after
Britain tightened its COVID-19 rules for international
travellers on Friday.

From 0400 GMT on Monday, all travellers to Britain must have
a recent negative COVID-19 test and quarantine at home for 10
days on arrival, unless they test negative a second time five
days after arrival.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines
UK, said the first three months of the year were typically a
slow period for the sector, but called for plans to relax rules
during the peak spring and summer period.

"Easter is a date that we have got in mind for when we can
start to have an aviation sector again. If we don’t start
bringing revenue into the sector, we’re going to be in a very
difficult place indeed," he told BBC radio.

"Airlines have been staying in business by taking on
billions of pounds of debt which will need to be paid back," he
added.

Britain's current lockdowns ban most international travel
meaning that airline schedules are currently minimal, but the
withdrawal of any quarantine-free travel from Monday will be a
further blow for the industry.

The latest restrictions were prompted in part by a third
wave of the disease that has caused record daily death tolls in
Britain, as well as concern about a new coronavirus variant
discovered in Brazil.

Karen Dee, chief executive of Britain's Airport Operators
Association, said the government needed to go beyond existing
support that includes a temporary exemption from local property
taxes.

“The UK and devolved governments (for Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland) now need to set out as a matter of extreme
urgency how they will support airports through this deepening
crisis," she said.

Relief from regulatory, policing and air traffic control
costs would help, she added.
(Reporting by David Milliken
Editing by Frances Kerry)

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