10 Dec

As Brexit decisions loom, we need greater certainty on travel to EU

The news today, like much of the news of the past couple of weeks, has added to the uncertainties of Covid the uncertainties of Brexit.  The latest date, it’s reported, when we’ll know if there’s a deal or not is this Sunday.
Two developments this morning suggest how the travel sector might be affected in the new year.
If it’s no deal, the European Commission has revealed contingency measures which would allow UK-EU air services to continue for six months, if the UK acts similarly.  We would, of course, want certainty beyond six months but at least it seems as though there will be no scenario of grounded flights on 1 January.
There have also been media reports this morning that the EU will ‘ban travel’ from the UK to EU from 1 January because of Covid concerns.  This overstates things somewhat, as EU-wide guidance on travel and coronavirus is just that – a recommendation.  Individual EU countries are still able to implement their own measures , considering options such as travel corridors and testing, and it will still be some weeks before we know the full position.
We have been speaking with media today to put this position across, so that consumer confidence in travel to the EU is not further dented. 
More widely, we’ve been continuing to highlight the plight of our sector to MPs, Ministers and government officials.  Our priorities include the imperative of tailored financial support, the need to change the approach to Foreign Office travel advice and being able to issue Refund Credit Notes for ATOL protected holidays in the new year.
With the Scottish government announcing this week £5m of support for travel agents, it shows that when we continue to press the sector’s case - backed with hard evidence - we can bring about change.  Moves such as those in Scotland this week have given me heart, while EU-related news this morning reminds us all that we shall continue to have to adapt to changing circumstances.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive