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Aviation shares jump as relaxation of England’s Covid travel rules planned

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<span>Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters</span>
Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Shares in travel and aviation businesses including the British Airways owner, IAG, Ryanair and the aero engine maker Rolls-Royce have received a boost from news that the UK government is planning to simplify England’s rules for international travel.

Investors were buoyed up by the changes – which could include removing dozens of destinations from the 62-country “red list”, the highest alert for international travel requiring 11 nights’ hotel quarantine on return – which are expected to be officially announced by ministers on Friday.

Ministers are also considering removing the amber list category of countries entirely, meaning there would be a clearer distinction between “go” and “no-go” destinations.

Related: Ryanair plans to carry 225m passengers by 2026 in Covid rebound

Shares in IAG jumped almost 7% on Friday afternoon, making the airline group the biggest riser on the FTSE 100, while shares in InterContinental Hotels Group, the owner of the Holiday Inn chain, were up 2%. Rolls-Royce was another big beneficiary among FTSE 100 stocks, rising more than 3%.

The relaxation of rules, which could include scrapping the requirement for fully vaccinated people to take PCR tests upon returning to the UK, also provided a boost to the package holiday group Tui, with a near 5% lift in shares making it one of the biggest risers on the FTSE 250 on Friday afternoon. EasyJet rose 3.4%, while rival airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air were up 2%.

WH Smith, which does strong trade from its operations in airports, had a 2% rise, while the Restaurant Group, which owns the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s chains, climbed 5%. Global conference organiser Informa, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, saw a 2.5% bounce, while retailer Burberry climbed 1.8% on the back of hopes of the return of international tourism.

“Companies highly reliant on international tourists saw a jump start to their share price today with a big shake-up in travel rules due,” said Susannah Streeter, a senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “This is the jolt of energy the travel industry desperately needed after months of uncertainty.”

Under the current rules, fully vaccinated people arriving from green and amber list countries must take a Covid-19 test within the 72 hours preceding their return to England, and take a PCR test on or before their second day back.

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