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Glasgow Airport joins Travel Day of Action to call on Government to safely reopen travel and provide financial support

Glasgow Airport and its staff will join colleagues within the UK’s aviation industry in taking part in the Travel Day of Action today (Wednesday 23 June).

Thousands of people employed across the industry, from travel agents to pilots and tour operators to cabin crew, will ‘speak up for travel’ by urging both the Scottish and UK Governments to capitalise on the vaccine rollout in order to safely reopen travel this summer.

Businesses taking part in the Travel Day of Action are also calling for Government to provide tailored financial support to an industry that will play a key role in rebuilding the country’s economy in the weeks and months ahead.

Staff will gather at the airport today at 2pm to spell out the word ‘HELP’ with unused vehicles on what would normally be a busy airfield to raise awareness of the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have the aviation industry.

Derek Provan, Chief Executive of AGS Airports Ltd, which owns and operates Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: “We have kept our airports open to support a number services including lifeline flights to the Scottish Islands, air ambulance operations and vital PPE and medical supply deliveries, while ensuring domestic and international connectivity could continue for key workers in crucial sectors like oil and gas.

“Our airports have accrued losses of over £3 million per month since March last year in order to remain open and operational, but more importantly a third of the people employed across our airports have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

“With no clear recovery plan on the horizon and a lack any significant and meaningful support from government, the thousands of people currently working within our industry face an uncertain future.

“Government must act now to save an industry that has delivered so much for our country and if provided with the correct support will play a key role in rebuilding our economy.”

The pandemic has been a catastrophe for the airports and the travel industry, closing borders. Data from IATA shows that, of the 1.6 million jobs within UK aviation, travel and tourism pre-pandemic, 860,000 have either already disappeared or are sustained only by government furlough.

Government has failed to deliver a restart to international travel as promised, by undermining the risk-based system they established for a safe return to travel. In contrast, other countries are forging ahead with pragmatic, risk-based, schemes that allow safe travel, including most recently Germany, France and Spain.

Without a meaningful summer season – a crucial period of the year for airports and travel businesses – many thousands of livelihoods are at stake, as well as the ability for airports to recover and reconnect Scotland and the UK to the world.

As part of the Day of Action there are a range of events and activities happening across the UK including 800 people attending an organised lobby outside Parliament in London, 200 people at an event in Holyrood in Edinburgh and 100 will gather in Belfast.

As part of the Travel Day of Action, Glasgow Airport and the wider AGS Airports Ltd group is joining calls on the UK Government to:

  • Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a traffic-light system, by expanding the green list in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants. Government should also capitalise on the success of the vaccine rollout by relaxing testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • Bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including extension of furlough support, recognising that the travel sector’s ability to trade and generate income is much slower than first anticipated and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.

The Government is expected to provide an update on the traffic light list within the next week, and a review of the requirements for international travel is due on 28 June.

Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said: “The Government’s overly cautious approach to reopening travel has real-world consequences for the 1.6m jobs in the UK aviation and tourism industries that rely on aviation having a meaningful restart.

“Unless the Government makes a meaningful restart of aviation possible by extending the green list at the next review, moving to rapid and affordable tests for returning travellers and following the examples of the EU and the US by reducing restrictions on fully vaccinated passengers, aviation and travel are in for an extremely difficult summer.

“If the Government decides it cannot reopen travel more meaningfully, then they should stand ready to give substantial financial compensation to airports and others in aviation and tourism.

“Jobs and livelihoods in businesses across the economy that need air connectivity for their success are at risk. The Government cannot afford to let those go.”

Glasgow Airport