Summer holidays may still go ahead this year in exciting news for Britons. The managing director of East Midlands Airport said she is “incredibly hopeful” flights will be up and running in July. Karen Smart told the BBC today that regional airports are pushing the government to ease travel restrictions.
However, the airport boss warned it could take years for travel to return to normal.
“From a passenger perspective, we expect it to be a phased return to flying,” said Smart.
“It’s likely that it’s going to take up to two years for air traffic levels to return to what we’ve experienced recently.”
This week it was announced that those coming into the UK by air would have to self-isolate for two weeks.
Holidays 2020: The managing director of East Midlands Airport said she is “incredibly hopeful” (Image: Getty Images.BBC)
Holidays 2020: The airport boss warned it could take years for travel to return to normal (Image: Getty Images)
Smart explained airports are hoping this rule will only apply to “high-risk countries.”
“If the quarantine period was to go on for a considerable length of time it would undoubtedly have an effect on our passenger confidence to fly off on their holidays from East Midlands,” she said.
“That’s why we’re really lobbying hard with the government that it is weeks rather than months that any quarantine period would be implemented and it would only be applicable from high-risk countries and passengers arriving in the UK from those countries.”
She also offered optimism for those wanting to get away in two month’s time.
“We are incredibly hopeful that we will be able to get passengers away from July on their holidays for the main part of our summer season,” Smart said.
The East Midlands Airport managing director’s ray of hope follows more negative news this week from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
He appeared on BBC on Wednesday to issue a warning to those tempted to travel.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel abroad,” said Shapps.
Holidays 2020: “From a passenger perspective, we expect it to be a phased return to flying, (Image: BBC)
“So right now, of course, you can’t book [holidays].
“The fastest way to get back to normality is to very closely follow the rules that have been set out; it’s hard to know quite what the path will be – we’ve seen with this disease that we have this curve up it’s coming down but it’s coming down slower than it went up.”
As for people considering booking holidays, Shapps said: “People will just have to take a view on where we’ll be at some point in the future.
“We’ve set out on that roadmap where we hope to be.
“We don’t know whether the virus will respond as we hope because… it depends how closely people adhere to the rules so, of course, we’re all desperate to get the world back to normal and be able to go about our lives go on holiday and all the rest of it. But we can only do that in small steps.”
Holidays 2020: Regional airports are pushing the government to ease travel restrictions (Image: Getty Images)
Currently, Britons are only allowed to carry out “essential” travel.
It’s not yet clear when these restrictions will be lifted.
At the moment the government’s COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice is unchanged. It reads as follows: “As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
“Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available.
“Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.”