A cross-party group of MPs – including more than 20 Conservatives – are calling for the government to take “urgent action” to save jobs in the aviation industry.
In a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the group of MPs expressed their concern at a “lack of progress” being made in supporting the industry through the coronavirus crisis.
Air travel is estimated to have fallen by up to 95% since COVID-19 prompted lockdowns across the world.
Many airlines have already set out plans to cut thousands of jobs and the International Air Transport Association estimated industry passenger revenues could plummet more than £200bn, or 44%, below 2019’s figure.
Industry bosses are also protesting against government plans to introduce a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving into the UK from 8 June.
In their letter, the “Future of Aviation Group” of 41 MPs told Mr Shapps: “The wider aviation family makes a significant economic and social contribution to the UK and will be central to our long-term economic recovery.
“We are therefore concerned at the lack of progress being made in providing wider support for the industry and in the development of a long-term roadmap that will enable the sector to recover as quickly as possible and play its vital role in our national overall economic recovery.”
They added that government measures already introduced to support businesses through the coronavirus crisis “will not be enough to enable our aviation industry to survive in a form that the nation needs”.
“We need urgent action now to safeguard jobs, the UK’s international competitiveness as an aviation hub and, crucially, to ensure that our economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19 as soon as it is safe and possible to do so,” the letter continued.
The group, which includes former Tory transport secretary Chris Grayling, warned that the “consequences of inaction in this vital area are simply unthinkable”.
In a list of questions to Mr Shapps, they asked how often will the 14-day quarantine period be reviewed, and whether the government would prioritise “air bridges” to restart safe travel to and from low-risk countries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday suggested such “air bridges” could be a means of allowing quarantine-free travel from some countries.
Conservative MP Henry Smith, chair of the Future of Aviation Group, said: “The government should abandon quarantine as soon as possible.
“If we were ever going to have a blanket quarantine policy, it should have come in two or three months ago – we should be coming out of it now, not going into it.”
The letter from the group of MPs adds to pressure on the government over its quarantine plan.
On Wednesday, more than 80 tourism bosses – including the heads of travel groups and some of the UK’s most famous hotels – wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging her to scrap the proposed mandatory 14-day quarantine period on anyone arriving in the UK.
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