The industry association representing U.K. airlines has commented on new travel legislation first announced by the U.K. government on Tuesday.
The move comes as the BBC reports the Government is to add a £5000 fine to coronavirus laws. The penalty would affect Britons traveling abroad for leisure.
Tim Alderslade, the Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said in a press release: “Nothing has changed with this legislation, the Government has been clear all along that it will report on 12 April its intent to restart international travel from 17 May, and airlines are busy working with Ministers through the Global Travel Taskforce to set out the criteria and framework that will enable this to happen safely.”
Under current legislation, it is illegal to travel abroad for leisure purposes from the U.K. Passengers permitted to travel must complete a declaration form advising why they are traveling. Airlines are to refuse customers without a valid reason to leave the country.
The new £5000 fines should expire on June 30. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that holidays could still be allowed before this date.
“The [recovery] roadmap sets out the earliest date by which we will allow for international travel – without one of the clear reasons you need now – is 17 May. That has not changed. The way we’re putting that into law is as part of these roadmap regulations that will be voted on Thursday,” Hancock said.
“They come to an end as a whole at the end of June. But that doesn’t change the timings for these questions on international travel,” continued Hancock.
International travel is due to be legal again from the U.K. in less than eight weeks. However, this is highly unlikely to be universal. Rising infection rates across the European continent are putting plans at risk.
Previously, AirlineGeeks reported the surge in leisure bookings following the announcement of the May 17 date for a resumption of international travel. However, regardless of COVID-status certification dropping quarantine requirements, the current situation in Europe may take away Britons’ holiday hopes.
On the continent’s COVID rise, Alderslade said: “It is too early to say what the state of Covid will be in Europe and globally in 10 weeks’ time. Our focus between now and then must be working with Ministers on a framework for travel that is robust and workable and can stand the test of time as we enter the all-important summer period.”
Alderslade has stated that airlines have been working with the Government’s travel taskforce on re-opening foreign travel. He said: “We know that universal, restriction-free travel is unlikely from 17 May but under a tiered system, based on risk, international travel can meaningfully restart and build up, with minimal restrictions in time.”
The U.K. Government’s Travel Taskforce is due to announce its findings and recommendations on April 12. However, in a press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested there could be news on April 5, Sky News reports.
The Global Travel Taskforce is working with Government, industry bodies, transport operators and travel agencies to discuss how international travel can be re-opened safely.
The taskforce is working closely with a review into COVID-status certification and its use in travel. This review looks into whether vaccine passports and testing could have a role in the U.K.’s recovery from COVID-19.
Source: Civil Aviation Authority – Qatar