AIRPORT bosses have warned Boris Johnson or “irreparable” economic damage unless quarantines on travellers are scrapped and replaced with coronavirus tests.
In a letter to the PM and Rishi Sunak bosses from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Luton issued an ultimatum giving the Government seven days to scrap quarantine or risk 110,000 job losses.
The airport chief execs warned Mr Johnson that they have already lost £4billion and it could be another four years before travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, The Telegraph reported.
They wrote: “We cannot currently envisage an end to this struggle, and without robust Government support there is real possibility of irreparable damage being done to our once world beating aviation sector.
The group of 20 travel leaders, led by Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, Tory chair of the Airport Operator’s Association, said testing and regional travel corridors were essential to open up travel again.
Heathrow has lost over £1 billion since March, and is looking to make pay cuts of up to 15 to 20 per cent for roughly 4,700 of its staff.
In a statement last week, Heathrow said: “With air travel showing little sign of recovery, these discussions cannot go on indefinitely and we must act now to prevent our situation from worsening.”
Despite introducing travel corridors with dozens of countries in July, the UK has since slapped quarantine back on European holiday hotspots including Spain and France.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned Brits they should not travel if they are not prepared to quarantine, as measures can be introduced at very short notice.
Ministers are considering following Wales, who introduced quarantine for six Greek islands, and allow regional travel corridors to “low risk” islands such as Maderia and the Azores.
Countries such as Germany put a quarantine on mainland Spain, but left the Balearic islands quarantine free because of the few cases of coronavirus.
A decision could be made as soon as Monday, according to industry sources.
Ministers have repeatedly insisted testing for coronavirus does not catch enough cases, and might only find as little as 7 per cent of positive infections because of the virus’ incubation period.
Last week, Boris Johnson doubled down on the 14-day quarantine rule – insisting airport coronavirus tests would give a “false sense of security”.
Chair of the Commons Transport Committee Huw Merriman has also said the PM’s failure to use airport testing was adding “further barriers to travel”.
Dominic Raab confirmed suggestions from Mr Shapps that quarantine could be shortened to eight days, by introducing two tests – one on arrival and another after five or eight days.
But he stressed that testing was not a “silver bullet”.
Dozens of Tory MPs are expected to urge the Government to back airport testing and regional travel corridors in a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday.
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