Virgin Atlantic push to raise £400m in rescue funds thrown into doubt

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A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said the latest measures were “not a realistic long-term solution to combating variants of concern”.

“Protecting public health must always come first and we support all efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. However, it’s vital that the skies remain open with minimal restrictions in place, in order to support economic recovery, keeping families connected and businesses running,” he said.

“We urge the UK Government to take a measured and proportionate approach to the omicron variant strain, basing action on science and data, to avoid damaging consumer confidence.”

Some of the industry’s leading figures also lashed out at what they deemed “knee jerk” border restrictions.

The former British Airways boss, Willie Walsh, said: “It’s clear that these measures have been completely ineffective in the past but impose huge hardship on people who are trying to connect with family and friends and clearly massive financial damage to the tourism and airline industry.”

It comes days after the United Nations World Tourism Agency published data showing airlines and hotel operators were only now starting to see an upturn after almost two years of curbs.

The UN agency said revenues from international tourism were on track to come in between $700m (£527m) and $800m for 2021, down from $1.7 trillion in 2019, although this marked a slight improvement from 2020.

However, it warned that the recovery was fragile and could take a hit from the emergence of new strains of the virus.

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