Airports could close temporarily as they reach ‘near-complete shutdown’

The travel industry is pleading for more support as the latest coronavirus restrictions left the UK’s airports at “near-complete shutdown”, with warnings they may have to close temporarily.

All travellers entering the UK from Monday will have to self-isolate for 10 days – or receive a negative COVID-19 test result at least five days after arriving – ending the travel corridor system which allowed quarantine-free travel from countries with low case rates.

In addition, all flights from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde have been banned in response to the emergence of a new coronavirus variant.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

PM closes all travel corridors

While the new restrictions have been largely welcomed, the UK’s travel industry has warned it needs more support to keep businesses running.

“The closure of travel corridors is understandable from a public health perspective but this adds to the current near-complete shutdown of the UK’s airports, which are vital for our post-pandemic prosperity,” said Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee.

“Airports are currently keeping their infrastructure open to support vital and critical services, such as post, freight, emergency services, military and Coastguard flights, as well as to help keep the lights in the UK on through supporting flights to offshore oil, gas and wind operations.

“Airports are doing so while running on empty – there is only so long they can run on fumes before having to close temporarily to preserve their business for the future.”

The current UK lockdowns ban most international travel, meaning few people are booking travel abroad, but the latest measures will be a further blow.

Emma Brennan, a spokesperson for the ABTA, told Sky News there needs to be more “recognition that the travel industry is suffering”.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport last month

Image:
Passengers at Gatwick Airport last month

“Since the very start of the pandemic, we haven’t had an opportunity to recover and there hasn’t been the tailored financial support for the sector that there has been for other sectors, such as hospitality and the arts,” she said.

Those in the travel industry say measures that could help include relief from regulatory, policing and air traffic control costs.