Boris Johnson Aims to Announce Global Flights Plan by April 5

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he aims to announce plans on the resumption of international flights by April 5, one week earlier than a government task-force report on travel is due.

In a televised news conference Tuesday, Johnson attempted to temper expectations -- warning that “things certainly look difficult for the time being” due to a “third wave” in coronavirus infections in several European countries.

The government said in February that the U.K. could reopen international travel from May 17 at the earliest. A report from its “global travel task-force” was set to report April 12, but Johnson said: “I certainly hope to be saying some more by April 5.”

Johnson is under increasing pressure from the airline industry to set a firm plan for resuming flights. The summer months are crucial for airlines across Europe, when revenue typically bulges from people going on annual holidays.

Many of Johnson’s own Conservative colleagues also want to see the sector unlocked as soon as possible, particularly because more than half of U.K. adults have already received a vaccination. But a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases on the continent means the plans may need to be pushed back.

“There is another wave building on the European continent amongst our friends,” Johnson told the news conference. “We will see it wash up onto our shores, I have no doubt.” He pledged to keep all border measures under review “to protect this country against new variants” of the virus.

Members of Parliament are set to vote on renewing the Coronavirus Act, which was brought in last year to enshrine the first lockdown, on Thursday. But Johnson will face a rebellion from some Conservatives on extending restrictions they believe cause serious harm to people’s wellbeing and livelihoods.

New regulations published Monday would allow ministers to extend the ban on international holidays to June 30, although the government has insisted this will be reviewed by May 17. MPs have also raised concerns that the legislation as a whole will remain in place until October, three months beyond June 21 when Johnson aims to lift all restrictions.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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