Job loss fears as international travel restrictions impact tourists

Socially distanced passengers at Stansted Airport

Social distancing at Stansted Airport. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Workers and businesses fear job losses in East Anglia as restrictions on UK tourists begin in France.

The rising rate of Covid-19 in England has created an "air of uncertainty" among businesses and workers who rely on Stansted Airport passengers.

The UK recorded a record-breaking 88,376 new Covid-19 cases yesterday (December 16).

The French government will begin turning away arrivals from the UK unless they have a "compelling reason" to enter, starting tomorrow morning (December 18).

Daren Parmenter from the GMB trade union called on the government to support workers.

He said: "We haven't heard enough from the government as to how they will protect staff if passenger numbers plummet."

According to The Ski Club of Great Britain, 52 percent of UK skiers regularly visit France for winter sports.

Daren fears cancelled winter holidays could impact Stansted-based businesses.

He said: "The government must put money in place to protect employees.

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"The furlough scheme ended at the right time for us, with growing confidence among staff and consumers.

"But we would like to see the scheme return.

"Some staff have taken wage cuts in exchange for job security.

"We are now discussing pay increases, but I fear job losses if aviation keeps losing out."

Between March 2020 and the end of furlough in September 2021, 2.13 million accommodation and food services-sector employees received Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments.

In the transportation and storage sector, this figure stood at 525,500.

Julie Budden, of Stansted Airport Chamber of Commerce, said the mood is "low".

She said: "There is an air of uncertainty.

"We are missing out on so much Christmas trade.

"France aside, hotels have cancelled functions and are trying to accommodate quarantining passengers without government support.

"Restaurants and HGV firms are facing challenges, particularly where their staff meet lots of people."

A government spokesperson said: "We recognise the challenging times facing the air transport sector due to Covid-19.

"That’s why businesses have been able to draw from an unprecedented £350 billion package of government support since the start of the pandemic, including around £8bn for the air transport sector."