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Government pledges airport support scheme following travel corridor curbs

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3-min read
Passengers wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, walk through the arrivals hall after landing at London Heathrow Airport in west London, on January 15, 2021. - International travellers will need to present proof of a negative coronavirus test result in order to be allowed into England, or face a £500 ($685, 564 euros) fine on arrival, from January 18. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that from 4am on Monday, arrivals to the UK from all destinations will be required to quarantine in an effort to reduce the spread of any new variants of COVID-19. Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

The government has said it will move to help support airports amid new curbs to travel regulations in the UK.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that from 4am on Monday, arrivals to the UK from all destinations will be required to quarantine in an effort to reduce the spread of any new variants of COVID-19.

This means that all travel corridors — which were in place to allow arrivals from some nations to forgo quarantine — will be closed.

Groups in the aviation sector have warned that businesses risk collapse under another long travel curb.

“Closing our travel corridors will help prevent the spread of new COVID variants in the UK,” aviation minister Robert Courts wrote on Twitter last night. “I know the impact this will have on the aviation sector, so to help limit this I am announcing our scheme to provide support to airports and ground operations will open this month.”

“The Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme will help airports reduce their costs and we will be aiming to provide grants before the end of this financial year,” Courts continued.

The scheme was first announced in November, however the government did not give a start date. It previously said it would involve grants of up to £8m ($10.9m) per applicant, used to cover fixed costs.

Under the new travel corridor rules, people will also be required to show proof of a negative test taken in the previous 72 hours before travelling.

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed airlines will need another $70-$80bn cash injection in order to get them through the coronavirus crisis.

Director-general Alexandre de Juniac said that was "on top of the $170bn already granted," in remarks to the BBC.

READ MORE: UK aviation industry warns of collapse and calls for ‘urgent support’ following travel curbs

The new measures will be in place until at least 15 February as ministers deal with a new variant identified in Brazil. The decision to close borders comes nearly a year after the coronavirus was first found in Britain.

The move also comes following a report from Heathrow airport last week that its passenger numbers slumped 73% during 2020.

For December alone, passenger numbers at Heathrow plummeted 83% as fear about the new strain of COVID-19 meant countries shut their borders to the UK. Alongside this, millions of people were forced to cancel Christmas travel.

The approval of the first vaccines in November was perceived to be a turning point for the industry, but the complication of new, more transmittable strains of the virus has lead to further groundings.

The latest figures for the UK show a further 1,280 deaths and another 55,761 positive cases.

A ban on travellers from Portugal, Cape Verde and South America also came into force on Friday.

Pandemic-fuelled events that have roiled the airline sector

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