The United Kingdom readies itself to welcome tourists from abroad beginning June 8 this year, with corona prevention measures in place. However, the international visitors will have to pass through stringent quarantine measures, including a 14-day self-isolation, before they start to explore the country. They are liable to pay a £1,000 fine in case they violate the rule.
Government has undertaken this step since there is a drop in the rate of transmission of COVID-19 flu. The daily corona infection number for June 4 was 1805 in UK, which has been steadily falling for over a month now, from a high of 6201 corona infected cases observed on May 1 this year.
All the tourists will have to provide an address for self-isolation, where they would be staying for two weeks. If they fail to do so, an accommodation will be arranged by the Government. Same quarantine rules are applicable to UK Citizens aspiring to return home. This will lower the risk of infection being re-introduced from foreign countries, it is hoped.
For two weeks, these tourists and citizens returning to UK are advised not to use public transport, go to work or travel to any public place. They are encouraged to drive their own or rented vehicles.
Incidentally, other European countries have not taken this measure kindly. France, Germany, Greece and Spain want Britain to drop its quarantine measure as it will impose restrictions on free travel. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the French tourism Minister has said that it will impose the same 14-day restrictions on UK travellers coming to France if UK Government goes ahead with its proposed scheme.
Meanwhile, Germany and France intend to open their borders to other European national, beginning June 15. Spain will open its border to international tourists from July this year while Greece will welcome all visitors from June 15.
How have the travel companies reacted?
The British aviation industry is already undergoing huge financial stress with an almost nil revenue and strict travel restrictions in place. The Government’s move to open travel for global travellers is definitely a step in the right direction to bring the industry back on track. But at the same time, it is weary of the fact that with a 14 day quarantine restriction in place, they are not going to see a large inflow of tourists and the customer demand will reduce significantly. This move in fact could stop people from taking summer holidays and be a ‘blow to the industry’.
Aviation companies insist that Government should allow quarantine-free travel from countries where the corona infection rate is low. They are asking it to create ‘air bridges’ between UK and such countries. For instance, with Portugal, where the latter is also hopeful that such an arrangement will be made between the two by the end of this month. Greece is also in favour of this idea and will drop its quarantine requirement for travellers from UK if it agrees to an air bridge. UK Government is mulling over creating such links with countries from Europe along with Australia and Singapore and is yet to take a final call.
Virgin Atlantic, one of UK’s most popular airline, is resuming its flights to Orlando and Hong Kong from London beginning July 20. Flights to New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai resume a day after that. It will be announcing more flights resuming operations during the next few weeks. The company is undertaking stringent public health and screening measures to stop any plausible spread of the disease.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON: IAG), owns British Airlines, UK’s most popular airline. With the historic drop in air travel, the company aims to lower costs by slashing around 12000 jobs. Apart from availing the ongoing Government furlough scheme which pays for 80 percent of staff salaries, IAG also took recourse to the Coronavirus Corporate Finance Facility (CCFG), worth 300 million pounds.
The company stocks were trading at GBX 327.50, up 13.64 percent on 5 Jun at 5.04 pm GMT+1.
EasyJet plc (LON: EZJ), the British low-cost airlines group, is likely to reopen 75 percent of its air routes by August this year. The number of daily flights will still be much lower compared to any normal summer. EasyJet is likely to work at 30 percent of its capacity during the period of July to September 2020. It has introduced a series of safety measures for its passengers as well as staff, including the need to wear face masks. The company has been forced to lay off 4500 workers and might be out of FTSE 100 basket with stumbling stock prices.
EZJ stock was trading at GBX 891.20, higher by 6.99 percent on 5 Jun at 4:35 pm GMT+1
Ryanair Holdings plc (LON: RYA), an Irish budget airline, has targeted to return to 40 percent of its normal schedule from July 2020, and will operate flights out of 19 airports in Britain. Ryanair will fly both in and out of the United Kingdom.
RYA share traded at 12.69 EUR, down 0.44 percent on 5 Jun at 5.17 pm GMT+1.
From abandoned holidays to employee layoffs, it is undeniable that the travel industry has been enormously affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Future is still uncertain with the pandemic not ending very soon, and it remains to be seen how the industry is able recover from the deep shock.
Scared of a second wave of corona flu infections, the government’s advice still remains to travel only if essential. Airlines should expect demand to surge in a gradual manner only, with travellers also being extremely careful and in the ‘wait and watch’ mode. Furthermore, if there is a second wave of corona infections across UK, then the Government might have to rethink its advice.
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