UK The huge impact of Covid on Manchester Airport - and what could happen next last minute news
PremierLeague-News.Com- The Government is due to publish a report on the future of international travel in the coming days
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Covid passports, masks, social distancing and compulsory testing might have been foreign concepts to air passengers just one year ago. But international travel, and the industry as a whole, has taken a huge hit during the Covid-19 crisis - and its future will depend on the ability of passengers, airlines and airports to adapt to a post-pandemic world. At Manchester Airport, passenger numbers have plummeted by 95 per cent as flying abroad has been restricted to essential journeys only, for necessary work, education, volunteering, weddings and funerals. Those still travelling in and out - around 2,000 passengers a day at Manchester Airport who are heading to destinations including Amsterdam, Doha, Addis Ababa and Abu Dhabi - have to adhere to strict rules. This week, Boris Johnson provided some hope of a return to normality for Manchester Airport, its staff and passengers as he indicated there would be a new 'traffic light' system ahead of the resumption of holidays, earmarked for May 17 at the very earliest. However, amid warnings this date could be set back, the government is advising people not to book holidays yet. It’s hoped a more detailed strategy will arrive in the coming days with the release of a report from the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce. Set to expand on the details of Mr Johnson’s ‘traffic light’ scheme, and include other details on protocols both from May and longer-term, it’s the document the travel industry has been appealing for since last year. Without it, experts can only predict the future based on speculation and the current status quo. Testng requirements are among restrictions expected to continue (Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning) Dr Neil Robinson is a lecturer in marketing and tourism at Salford University. He predicts major changes in the industry including rising costs, folding airlines, databases showing travellers' Covid status and stricter security to handle rule-breakers. At Manchester Airport, employees have taken a 10 per cent pay cut and 465 employees of Manchester Airports Group - along with hundreds of workers employed indirectly - found themselves at risk of redundancy. Dr Robinson said: "Almost overnight the impact of the pandemic has been almost biblical in proportion. "I think the next 12 months will be critical to the sector. "I think from a strategic perspective, passengers will have to be monitored much better on board aircraft to make sure people aren't interacting and that they are traceable when they get off. “The industry will want to get the profit back from what’s been lost in the last 12 months but more importantly, they are going to have to fund the strict methods needed now and that will cost money." He predicts carriers merging or having to change their business model to survive. Read More Related Articles International travel should reopen slowly, scientist warns Read More Related Articles Pakistan among four countries added to England's red travel ban list Covid certification, in the form of proof of a negative test, is already part of international travel and the Government is looking into ways of showing this information digitally. Currently, people who have had a Covid jab receive a vaccination card, and the details go on their medical records. But the Government is looking at how people might more easily show their Covid status for activities like international travel. The Government says an NHS-backed 'certification' system could show if someone has been fully inoculated, has antibodies, or has had a negative test. A Government report said: "The current intention is that, when non-essential international travel does resume, the NHS solution will facilitate international travel where certification is required, and we will look to establish arrangements with other countries and international organisations to establish mutual recognition of certificates." European officials, meanwhile, have announced plans for an EU-wide 'Green Digital Certificate'. This would allow anyone vaccinated against Covid, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel within the region. Officials hope this will be in place before the summer season. Whatever solution is found, technology to monitor this could also lead to rising costs and, says Dr Robinson, there could be issues with getting all destinations to be IT compliant. He added: "While wealthier economies might engage in good practice there could be destinations where controlling an outbreak might be more difficult. "There are going to be destinations that aren’t as well regulated and we’ll see more mutations developing.” He also believes that, while the ‘majority’ of passengers will engage with the rules, some will not, adding: "There will be those who don't want to engage with wearing masks, with sanitising their hands - especially after a few drinks - and there will be a knock-on effect with extra work and costs to airlines and airports." But Dr Robinson does not believe all this will stand in the way of resurgence of international travel in the coming months. He added: “I’ve got friends booking now for June and I suspect there will be a resurgence this summer. That does worry me because these are unchartered waters and we don’t know how jabs will last long-term." Among those keen to get abroad is Neville Duncan, 74, a formerly frequent traveller who has had a number of flights cancelled over the last year - many of which have been pushed down the calendar when lockdowns or new restrictions hit. The booked and cancelled flights, said Neville, have been ‘cheap and cheerful’ trips to visit family in Ireland or go abroad, but the pandemic has put paid to them all. Neville and his wife, who before Covid-19 flew regularly from Manchester Airport, have now both been vaccinated and are keen to resume a life of travel. Their latest booking is to travel in June to Alicante, where they hope to meet their daughter, her husband and children who they haven’t seen for nine months. Neville, a retired IT operations manager, said: “It’s a part of life I enjoy. We’ve got friends in Spain and we like to travel here." Read More Related Articles Manchester Airport to drastically cut flight arrival and departure times Read More Related Articles Airport workers describe a very different Christmas but 2021 could bring hope But, referring to the traffic light system which looks set to be launched in May, he added: “We are waiting to see if Spain is a green light or not. We’ve both had our jabs so we are as safe as we can be but it depends what kind of state Spain is in. Like many people we are seeing the horrendous rise in case numbers across mainland Europe. “I’m in touch with people who live there and they have curfews and limits on how far they can travel.” Neville says a period of self-isolation at home would, in their case, be ‘manageable’, adding: “I would like to think Manchester Airport have spent many hours making sure that the whole process of going out and coming back are made safe because Covid is still a threat despite jabs. “I hope the airport keep areas like carousels safe and don’t forget social distancing and the like. I think the airport has a responsibility to ensure people do follow the rules - which may be difficult after someone has had six pints.” Read More Related Articles The 'ghost flights' arriving into Manchester Airport Read More Related Articles Passengers pictured leaving Manchester Airport in full forensic suits Here is a run down of how life for passengers at Manchester Airport has already changed: Preparation Before travelling to the airport, passengers are asked to check the status of their flight and terminal as there could be changes to schedules as airlines increase flights. As ever, passengers with symptoms or who should be self-isolating, must stay at home. For those currently leaving the UK for essential journeys, most countries require proof of a negative Covid test. The exact kind of test or when you have to take it varies between destinations. However, vaccination may soon be another route to holidays - as well as agreements with other nations. Manchester Airport opened a testing centre on site last year - and you can arrange these tests through their website. You can also use their provider to book the tests you need when you arrive back into the UK. (Image: Mirrorpix) Getting to the airport Manchester Airport has issued a range of guidance on the current rules for passengers - although this could change. Currently, only passengers with a ticket to fly should be at the airport, unless necessary. There is also no waiting allowed in the terminal building for non-passengers and if you are picking up a passenger you must meet them in a designated area.
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. Last month, at one of Mayor Andy Burnham’s weekly press conferences, it was revealed that ‘very large groups’ had been congregating to send off travellers. Baroness Beverley Hughes, Greater Manchester's Deputy Mayor for Policing said people ‘without plans for travel’ had become an increasing problem for police officers. If passengers are travelling by bus or train they are reminded to check schedules as they may have been reduced or changed during the pandemic.
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Parking The first on-site change the more seasoned Manchester Airport passenger might notice if they fly out next month is a steeper parking bill. In November, Manchester Airport increased its drop-off and pick-up parking fees by up to 70 per cent. It means an hour’s stay in a pick-up parking space will set you back £12, up from the previous fee of £7. A five-minute drop-off charge, meanwhile, has gone from £3 to £5. The decision followed a devastating six months for the hub as the pandemic savaged passenger numbers and led to furloughed staff as well as job cuts. Passengers can still choose to be dropped off at the Thorley Lane Jet Parks 1 site where a shuttle bus takes them to terminals Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has said the move is part of a recovery plan to include a review of ‘parking, retail and other products and services’ while ‘keeping flight prices as low as possible’. It’s not yet known how this recovery plan will impact other elements of the customer experience.
Manchester Airport Terminal 2's new imposing light feature
(Image: Manchester Airport)
At the Terminal A spokesman from Manchester Airport told the Manchester Evening News that efforts would be made to make sure ‘all necessary measures were in place to ensure our passengers and colleagues are safe as travel resumes’. It's not yet clear what these will be - but there have already been a number of changes put in place to support those travellers who have continued to travel throughout the pandemic. Currently, all passengers are asked to don a face covering as soon as they arrive on campus, including in the car parks. They are also asked to use the hand sanitiser provided in the terminal. Arriving passengers will find airport staff wearing extra protective equipment. The assistance desk is open as usual with ‘wheelchairs cleaned after each use’. There are currently no changes to regulations around hand luggage or lap tops - and bottles of hand sanitiser are included in the 100ml rule. At security, passengers may be asked to remove their face coverings if they are selected for additional searches by staff, who will be wearing full protective gear.
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Currently, due to social distancing, there is less seating available in the Departure Lounge, and not all food outlets and shops are open, although it’s not known how this might change in the coming months. Passengers are asked to follow the signs and queuing systems in shops, bars and restaurants. Passengers may be asked to remove masks at the passport gates or when talking to Border Force officers - and travellers are asked to stand back from the luggage carousels and maintain social distancing until they see their baggage. At some point this year, the new ‘Super Terminal’ is expected to open. The £1bn project is dubbed the biggest single construction project ever to take place in Greater Manchester. The development had been promised to deliver faster check-in and security checks, as well as a speedier journey through immigration and baggage claim, although, amid warnings from hub bosses that it may take longer to process passengers due to social distancing rules, it’s not known how pandemic restrictions will affect this. The opening had been marked down for ‘spring’ but a firm date, say hub bosses, is dependent on the Government report.
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On the flight Neil Robinson, tourism expert, said: "I think from a strategic perspective, passengers will have to be monitored much better on board aircraft to make sure people aren't interacting and that they are traceable when they get off." He also believes airlines will have to become more stringent with infection control, including spraying cabins with sanitising fluid. Passengers will be expected to wear masks. Throughout lockdown, Virgin Atlantic has continued to oprerate four flights a week from Manchester to Islamabad in Pakistan. However, in an example of how quickly things can change at the moment and how it can affect the industry and passengers, Pakistan is due to be moved to the 'red list' this Friday. Because Manchester Airport is not a designated port of entry for England's hotel quarantine, the airline will temporarily suspend these services from Thursday, when the last inbound flight will operate. The operator intends to restart services when they can and will be in touch with any customers affected by a cancellation. The Manchester Evening News asked the carrier how they had adapted their in-flight experience in light of Covid. A spokeswoman said they had implemented health and safety measures inlcuding enhanced and thorough cleaning at check in, boarding gates and onboard - including the use of 'electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories' before every flight, ensuring 'no surface is left untouched'. Safe distancing is adhered to 'wherever possible' and mask wearing is required throughout each journey. All customers are to be provided with a 'personal Health Pack' containing medical grade face masks to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel. Airlines are currently fined £2,000 if they bring in a passenger from a red list country to a non-designated port, or if they bring in someone who has not booked a quarantine package. They are also fined if one of their passengers has not booked a testing package if they are flying in from other countries.
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
Arriving back into the UK More detail on the upcoming ‘traffic light’ plan will be revealed in the coming days, but it’s understood that a return from green list countries will entail negative Covid tests both pre-departure and post-arrival in the UK. Countries will be placed on the green list if they are judged to be lower risk, through vaccination numbers, infection rates - or the prevalence of varients of concern. Their genomic sequencing capacity will also be taken into account. It's not yet known what travellers from amber countries will have to do, although it's predicted it will involve self-isolation, while those arriving from red countries might either be barred or required to spend time in hotel quarantine - as is currently the case. Currently, travellers cannot enter the UK if they have been in or through a country on the banned travel list, known as the red list, in the last 10 days - unless they are British, Irish or have the right to live in the UK. If they do live here, and travel through a ‘red list’ country, they will have to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel - none of which are in Manchester. The hotel booking will include two coronavirus tests.
If passengers are travelling from other countries, they can quarantine for 10 days where they are staying and must take two coronavirus tests, booked before arrival. They may be able to end quarantine early by booking a third test through the ‘Test to Release’ scheme. Travellers must also have completed a negative coronavirus test in the three days before their return, even if they are a UK citizen. They will be asked to show the results when they check in and could be asked again when they arrive at Manchester Airport. If it’s positive, passengers can’t travel and must follow the local coronavirus rules of the country they are in. Passengers must also complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before they arrive in the UK. They will need to show this form when they check in - and provide proof of completion again when they arrive at the UK border. Again, vaccinations and arrangements between countries could alter these restrictions in future.