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Airlines beg government to save summer by easing travel restrictions

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UK airlines have called on the government to ease restrictions on international travel during the “vital summer period”.

In a letter to transport secretary, Grant Shapps, they pleaded for more countries to be added to the green list, and testing requirements to be loosened.

The letter, co-signed by trade body Airlines UK and chief executives of Virgin Atlantic, easyjet, British Airways, Jet 2, Loganair, Ryanair and TUI, said “time is fast running out” to get the UK’s travel industry back on track and protect millions of jobs.

It said: “The UK aviation recovery is far behind countries in Europe. Travel bookings in Germany are now at 60 per cent of 2019 levels. France is at 48 per cent. Here in the UK, we are booking just 16 per cent of trips compared to pre-pandemic.”

The airlines also called into question the UK’s testing regime, saying mandatory PCR tests act “as a £100 tax on flights”.

They said travellers should be able to use more affordable lateral flow tests instead.

The letter said: “The world has changed since the inception of the traffic light system, and ‘Green status’ should increasingly become a default, given the changing risk equation, and mirroring the approach to domestic restrictions.

“On this basis there is no reason why, and it is essential, that much of Europe including the key volume markets, the US, Caribbean and other major markets, cannot turn green next week in time for the remainder of the summer peak.”

The government is expected to announce a review of its traffic light system on Thursday.

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