Following the government’s announcement today (Friday May 7) that air travel for leisure purposes can resume later this month, Unite, the UK’s premier aviation union, warned that the aviation sector will need transparent decision-making, effective logistics and further assistance in order to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Green list countries

The government has announced that 12 countries will be placed on the green list, including Portugal from where passengers returning to the UK will not have to quarantine.

However with major holiday destinations including Spain, France and Italy not yet being included on the green list, the hope of the aviation industry for a full summer season are likely to be wide of the mark.

Action needed

Unite believes that the current threat to jobs means unless the government extends the job retention scheme beyond September for the aviation sector and provides additional sustainable sector specific support, Unite fears there are likely to be thousands of additional and unnecessary job losses in the sector.

Sector support

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “It is positive news that people will be able to travel without quarantining upon return to countries on the green list. 

 “This is an important first step not just for holidaymakers but workers in the aviation industry whose jobs depend on the world opening up again.

 “However, from the relatively small number of countries on the list it is apparent that the aviation industry is still heavily constrained by the profoundly damaging impacts of the pandemic.

 “Transparency and support from the government is needed if the UK’s civil air transport sector is to have a sustainable recovery.  

 “Government must also ensure that airlines, airports and other travel businesses can understand how changes in quarantine rules will take place so they can plan and prepare. Without this airlines are hampered in reopening routes or extending schedules. 

“In addition the logistics of ensuring travel, testing and documentation can be processed is vital in unblocking the bottlenecks that have already developed in the journey of passengers.

“Lowering prohibitive costs for Covid tests for families wishing to leave the country for holidays is also a necessary to deliver travel for all and not just the wealthy.

Finally, along with other support measures, the government must also put in place a potential extension of the job retention scheme for the aviation industry past September, should such safety restrictions on travel remain. 

 “No other industry is facing such intense scrutiny and restrictions on its operations, and therefore it should be treated separately from those parts of the economy that have a clear and defined road map to exiting lockdown.”


Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.