With holidaymakers receiving mixed messages from authorities regarding the latest wave of quarantines and travel restrictions, the travel industry is working hard to cut through the confusion and get people moving safely again.
Bosses from the UK’s leading airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair, this week called on the government to replace its quarantine measures with mass COVID-19 testing at airports. The announcement came as countries including Croatia, Trinidad & Tobago and Austria were added to the UK’s quarantine list.
In a letter addressed to transport secretary Grant Shapps, airline chief executives said the proposed airport testing would be similar to a scheme launched in Germany, where passengers from higher risk countries undergo a mandatory free coronavirus test on arrival. Travellers receive a result within 24 hours and, if negative, can avoid a 14-day quarantine. They added that the German model would help ‘stimulate significant (travel) demand whilst protecting public health’.
In response, Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he is working closely with airports to develop viable solutions to coronavirus. He added that more people are returning to public transport, including rail, with passenger usage rising from ‘single digits’ at the start of the pandemic to ‘around 40% and higher in some areas’.
Elsewhere, Oslo Airport opening its own on-site COVID-19 testing centre this week, working in conjunction with local health authorities to assist and reassure incoming passengers. Meanwhile, airline Delta revealed it is adding two more weekly flights between the US and China to meet increased customer demand for travel between the two countries.
Tech giant Google also revealed it is introducing new features to its Google Travel platform, enabling users to make more informed travel choices around coronavirus. This includes search functionality showing local COVID-19 case counts, hotel availability and the number of flights currently in operation.
Finally, we leave you with these inspiring words from Darryl McGarvey, director of travel partnerships at SAP Concur, who this week took part in a City A.M. debate asking the question ‘should we accept that this is the end of business travel?’.
McGarvey argues that business travel must return in order to rebuild economies in a post-pandemic world. He adds: “Business travel leads to the transportation of ideas – and good ideas are the lifeblood of any functioning economy.”