Tens of thousands of jobs in the travel sector have been lost since the start of the pandemic and more will go without government support, an industry body has said.
Abta said 39,000 roles at tour operators, travel agents and airlines had been cut or placed at risk, with more than 90,000 estimated to be affected when supply chains are also included.
A survey of its members also showed 78% of its members who have not already had “redundancy conversations” expected to do so in coming months based on current trading conditions.
Abta said that the jobs hit so far represented 18% of those in the industry, with 65% of businesses making redundancies or starting a consultation process.
Travel companies have been severely affected by the pandemic with hopes for a revival in demand at the end of the summer season dented by the imposition of quarantine measures on popular destinations.
Among those hit have been Hays Travel, which last year rescued hundreds of Thomas Cook stores from closure but has now had to cut 878 jobs, and Tui, which is closing 166 high street shops.
Last week, travel firm STA said it had ceased trading in the UK after the pandemic brought the industry to a “standstill”.
“The situation when it comes to jobs in the travel industry has reached a critical point, with measures to control the pandemic affecting the market,” Abta said.
The body has now written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for help for the sector including switching to regionalised quarantine rules, a testing regime to enable travel and mitigate the risk of infection and an air passenger duty holiday to boost demand.
It also wants the government to pay grants to help travel agents through the winter as well as an extension to the furlough scheme subsidising wages for temporarily laid-off workers – which is due to end this autumn.
Abta said many parts of the industry remained shuttered, such as cruise and school travel operators.
It said that if a second wave of infections resulting in a further shutdown were to occur, 96% of travel businesses feared that would have a “critical or serious impact on their ability to survive”.
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “With the government’s stop start measures, the restart of travel has not gone as hoped for the industry, and sadly businesses continue to be adversely affected and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate.
“Coming towards the end of the traditional period for peak booking, we have hit a critical point as existing Government measures to support businesses begin to taper off, the consequence of which, according to this survey of Abta Members will be ruinous for more people’s livelihoods.
“Travel desperately needs the Government in its next review to provide tailored support or tens of thousands more jobs will be lost.”