HELP FOR PILOTS: Pilots call for financial support over winter
HELP FOR PILOTS: Pilots have urged the Government to provide specific financial support for the aviation sector due to the impact of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
A series of travel restrictions have been reintroduced by the Government in recent days, including requiring fully-vaccinated arrivals to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a PCR test.
The red list has also been resurrected, with 10 southern African countries added.
EasyJet said on Tuesday that it has seen demand softening due to the emergence of the new strain of Covid-19.
Pilots’ union Balpa called for the Government to provide a Winter Resilience Fund to ensure cash-strapped airlines and other aviation companies survive the coming months.
Even before the pandemic, airlines were often loss-making during the winter season, relying on profits made during the summer.
But the recovery during the summer was limited, partly due to quarantine and testing requirements.
The furlough scheme, which was widely used by travel companies, ended on September 30.
Balpa general secretary Martin Chalk said: “Support to aviation dried up at the end of summer, yet the principle of supporting loss-making industries whilst Government restrictions prevent business as usual applies as much now as it ever did.
“Holiday and New Year traffic is a core part of the winter season for airlines.
“With this being severely depressed by shattered confidence and restrictions, we need winter support measures to help us weather the storm of Omicron uncertainty.
“This will ensure we are able to compete with the rest of the world come summer 2022, when we will be needed to take the UK’s ambitions to every corner of the globe.”
Balpa wants mandatory PCR tests for arriving fully-vaccinated travellers to be funded by the Government rather than requiring people to use “cowboy” private firms.
It also called for restrictions to be backed up by data.
Mr Chalk said: “Pilots by their very nature are safety-conscious and understand the desire to protect public health.
“But the measures and restrictions put in place by the Government must be proportionate to risk, based on data and not unnecessarily penalise travellers, including families reuniting for Christmas and the New Year.
“It is vital the Government helps rebuild public confidence and supports aviation by removing the barriers, such as costly private testing, that are putting people off travelling.”
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