February 22, 2024

Budget: Furlough extension gives lifeline

The business travel sector has welcomed the decision by Rishi Sunak to extend the furlough scheme but is urging the Government to take further action to help secure a travel restart.

In today’s Budget, the Chancellor confirmed the furlough scheme will remain in place until the end of September.

“Extending the furlough scheme is significant for many businesses across the industry as we wait for next month’s Global Travel Taskforce recommendations,” said Andrew Crawley, American Express GBT Chief Commercial Officer.

“But as we prepare for the restart of international travel, it’s also vital that governments take immediate steps to align on how health passports and related documentation will be accredited from trusted sources and mutually recognised by countries and authorities around the world.”

Crawley urged the UK to use its G7 presidency to lead conversations on a global economic recovery underpinned by the seamless return of international travel.

“Facilitating a global travel framework is an opportunity for the UK to show leadership while championing international trade and economic growth,” he added.

Scott Davies, CEO, ITM, said the extension of the furlough scheme was “very welcome news” for its members but said the recovery was still some way off.

“Whilst the roadmap out of lockdown and the Covid vaccination programme has given our industry a light at the end of the tunnel, the recovery of is still going to take several months,” he said.

“It’s unlikely that there will be significant resumption of business travel until the second half of 2021. The furlough extension will help to retain more of the precious talent within our industry and help our members, particularly suppliers, to plan their resourcing and be ready for when business travel returns.”

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said the extension of the furlough scheme will save jobs across the sector, but he said business travel has again been excluded from vital grants despite travel restrictions preventing TMCs from doing their jobs.

“It is imperative that the new Global Travel Taskforce brings forward a framework in which business travel is fully integrated, and enables it to resume and contribute to the UK economy once more,” he said.