End of furlough scheme will bring travel sector job losses to 100,000 – survey

Seven out of 10 travel companies with staff on furlough plan to make redundancies once the scheme ends this month, according to a new survey (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)
14:17pm, Tue 14 Sep 2021
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Seven out of 10 (69%) travel companies with staff on furlough plan to make redundancies once the scheme ends this month, according to a new survey.

The poll of 107 businesses by travel trade association Abta suggests that the scrapping of the Job Retention Scheme on September 30 will bring the total number of jobs lost in the outbound travel sector during the coronavirus pandemic to nearly 100,000.

Latest Government figures show travel agencies and tour operators had the second highest rate of furloughed staff of any industry at 46%, behind aviation (51%).

The Government needs to wake up to the damage its policies are doing

Abta’s survey also suggested that new summer holiday bookings were down 83% this year compared with 2019.

Nearly half of travel companies also reported seeing no year-on-year increase in bookings despite the rollout of the vaccine programme.

Abta called on the Government to end the widespread use of PCR testing as part of an overhaul of the requirements for arriving travellers.

It wants fully vaccinated people to be able to return from lower-risk countries without any post-arrival Covid-19 test.

The association also urged ministers to slash the red list, which currently consists of 62 countries, so it is only used to manage known variants of concern.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “The Government’s travel requirements have choked off this summer’s travel trade, putting jobs, businesses and the UK’s connectivity at risk.

“While our European neighbours have been travelling freely and safely, the British were subject to expensive measures which have stood in the way of people visiting family and friends, taking that much-needed foreign holiday and making important business connections.

“The Government needs to wake up to the damage its policies are doing to the UK travel industry and the impact they will have on the wider economic recovery.

“It is the fares from leisure passengers that keep our planes flying and routes open.

“A diminished holiday industry is a diminished aviation industry with fewer routes and fewer flights.

“That’s not how you achieve a global Britain.”

The next update to the green, amber and red travel lists is due to take place this week.

Paul Charles, chief executives of travel consultancy The PC Agency, believes 24 countries “should be taken off” the red list.

They include Pakistan, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Chile.

A wider review of the quarantine and testing requirements is scheduled to happen by October 1.

It has been reported that a simplified system will be announced by the Government in the coming days.

A Government spokeswoman said: “Our top priority is to protect public health.

“Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.

“We recognise the challenging times facing the travel sector, which is why we have committed around £7 billion of support by September 2021 and continue to work with industry to help them navigate this difficult period.”

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