UK’s new travel testing plan will boost flying, minister says

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s transport minister said on Wednesday that his coronavirus testing plans would get more people flying in the months ahead, sounding an optimistic note at a time when travel companies are struggling to survive.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in London, Britain, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

A 14-day quarantine for arrivals from most countries could be replaced by an as-yet unspecified shorter isolation period followed by a negative test result under plans that Transport Minister Grant Shapps set out last week.

“I believe the measures I’ve outlined will result in significantly more people flying in the months ahead,” Shapps told a virtual ABTA travel industry association event.

Airlines have cut back their already anaemic flying schedules for autumn due to mounting travel restrictions in Europe.

Shapps said the government was working hard to get the new arrivals regime in place and much of the work had already been done, with another approach also being considered for pre-departure testing. Final details due in early November.

British Airways said in a statement it backed pre-flight testing, “where travellers arriving in the UK all have a negative test up to 72 hours before flying”.

But the International Air Transport Association has said the plan does not go far enough, because 80% of travellers will not fly it there is any quarantine in place.Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss told the event that a travel testing regime was urgently needed.

After a 1.2 billion pound rescue and nearly 5,000 job cuts, Virgin is prepared for a severe downturn which continues into next year, but he warned that beyond that there would be airline failures.

“At some point if borders do not open up … there’s only a certain amount of time that you can survive,” Weiss said.

ABTA, representing 4,300 UK travel brands, urged the government to provide more support. Shapps said his focus was on enabling travel through “test and release”.

He said a recovery plan for the aviation industry would be set out later this autumn.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kevin Liffey/Jane Merriman and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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No plans to sell Roosevelt Hotel, says Pak Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan], October 13 (ANI): Terming the news of the sale of the iconic Roosevelt Hotel as ‘misleading’ and ‘speculative’, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Tuesday said that the government has no plans to sell the hotel.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)-owned hotel, which is a popular New York landmark, had announced last week that it will shut its doors permanently as of October 31.

The hotel closed its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic and drop in business activities, Geo News reported.

The minister said the hotel was currently operational and had valid contracts till December this year with various other airlines, according to Geo News.

Multiple options were being considered for its future and all decisions were made collectively by the hotel’s board and the government of Pakistan, he added.

Named after the American President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel has featured in several big-ticket Hollywood productions.

On Thursday, in a Facebook post, the hotel said: “We at The Roosevelt Hotel have enjoyed being a part of your stories, and an integral part of the history of Midtown Manhattan since 1924. But after almost 100 years of welcoming guests to New York, The Roosevelt Hotel is regretfully closing its doors permanently as of October 31, 2020.”

Located at the corner of Madison Avenue and 45th Street of New York’s Manhattan, The Roosevelt Hotel is owned by the Government of Pakistan through PIA Investments Limited.

The hotel originally opened in 1924 and it was taken by the national carrier on lease in 1979 and later purchased in 1999, according to Daily Pakistan. (ANI)

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