In a debate about the future of air travel, the Tory chair of the Transport Select Committee has revealed what he calls “a spreadsheet of shame for the government”.
Speaking at the Westminster Hall debate, Huw Merriman said that the document, supplied by an aviation company, “showed 30 countries that have already delivered testing, either before the passenger reaches the airport that they are going to transfer to, or once they have arrived”.
Mr Merriman, who is MP for Bexhill and Battle, said: “If those other countries can demonstrate, with science, that that can be done safely, why on earth can the UK not do the same thing, when we have been the leaders and pioneers in aviation?
“Let us unlock our skies again.”
Quarantine rules, which require 14 days of self-isolation for arriving travellers from almost anywhere in the world, have diminished demand for travel to and from the UK since they were imposed in June. In addition, under the lockdown rules for England, no leisure travel is permitted until 3 December at the earliest.
In September the government announced a Global Travel Taskforce charged with “considering how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK”. It is chaired by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, and the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
Mr Shapps had said the taskforce would report to No 10 by early November.
The aviation minister, Robert Courts, confirmed that the Global Travel Taskforce has not yet submitted its recommendations to No 10. He said: “I want to inform everybody that the taskforce will report back to the prime minister very soon.”