ABTA has released a statement welcoming the Governments decision to extend and adapt the current furlough scheme but also underlines other, urgent mechanisms which are also needed to protect the industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports.
Last week, ABTA’s chief executive. Mark Tanzer gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee highlighting the need for the furloughing rules to be reviewed in order to support travel agents and tour operators. This included enabling travel businesses to have a degree of flexibility and allowing either a part-time return to work or some tasks to be undertaken without the loss of all salary support.
While the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of October is a welcome step in the right direction, much more help is needed to ensure travel businesses get through this crisis, and ABTA is continuing to call for the Government to take action through its ‘Save Future Travel’ campaign.
In addition to the extension of the furlough scheme, the Government urgently needs to develop a wider strategy that includes:
• Providing guidance and clarity on refunds for package holidays, including confirming clearly and publicly what the CAA has stated privately, that Refund Credit Notes covering ATOL package holidays with flights are financially protected.
• Working with the ABI and insurers, to ensure adequate travel insurance cover is available to customers for when FCO travel restrictions start to be lifted.
• Ensuring any quarantine measures that are proposed are part of a wider strategy, including consideration of FCO travel advice. Any measures should be based on health and scientific advice and be proportionate, targeted and limited only to what is necessary to protect public health.
Tanzer commented: “We have been actively lobbying the Government to extend the furlough scheme to help prevent mass job losses impacting the industry at the end of June, so today’s announcement will be welcome news to the many travel agents and operators who are having to make incredibly difficult decisions about people’s jobs during this crisis.
“However, travel businesses and their customers still need urgent intervention and guidance in a number of other important areas. Above all else, we need the Government to develop and set out a wider strategy for supporting the travel industry and its customers through this crisis that covers areas including refunds and potential travel restrictions.”