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Coronavirus: 90,000 travel jobs axed or at risk as firms cry for help

Passengers wearing face masks as they arrive at Heathrow Airport after a flight from Dubrovnik, Croatia, landed. The UK government announced that from 4am on Saturday, travellers to the UK from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Passengers at Heathrow as travel chiefs warn 90,000 roles have been placed at risk or axed. Photo: PA

More than 90,000 workers have lost their jobs or been placed at risk of redundancy in Britain’s ailing travel industry, new figures suggest.

Industry chiefs warned “stop-start” quarantine rules, the wind-down of the furlough scheme and the end of the peak summer season could trigger tens of thousands more job losses.

A survey by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) suggests almost two-thirds of firms have either slashed staff or began consulting over job cuts. Among those who have not, four in five expect to do so in the coming months.

The figures lay bare the scale of the crisis facing the sector, which has been ravaged more than most by the pandemic. Leading airlines have warned they expect to wait years before passenger numbers return to pre-virus levels.


READ MORE: UK temp jobs on the rise as redundancies grow

ABTA said on Monday it had written to UK chancellor Rishi Sunak with a list of demands. It is calling for the UK government to extend the furlough scheme for the hardest-hit firms, offer grants to travel firms, and announce a holiday on air passenger duty.

The association is also demanding more mass testing and a move to releasing UK travel advice and quarantine rules on a regionalised basis, rather than blanket national policies.

It comes after widespread frustration in the sector that the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands were included when Spain was added to the quarantine list, despite relatively low infection rates.

ABTA said it was “difficult to see” how Britain could reopen travel to major economies like the US without a move to more regionalised quarantine rules.

READ MORE: Eat Out to Help Out is propping up Wetherspoon during COVID-19

“With the government’s stop-start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate,” said the organisation’s chief executive Mark Tanzer.

“Coming towards the end of the traditional period for peak booking, we have hit a critical point as existing government measures to support businesses begin to taper off, the consequence of which, according to this survey of ABTA Members will be ruinous for more people’s livelihoods.”

He said even firms that would normally thrive had fallen into administration, and warned that without further help “more are sadly set to follow.”