The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of huge adaptation for all, including those working in the transport sector. From taxis and trains to planes, the impact of government restrictions has been felt. Now, as the UK tentatively reopens, the transport sector must prepare for its post-pandemic comeback.
When the government unveiled their roadmap out of lockdown back in late February 2021, many working in the transportation sector no doubt breathed a sigh of relief. But what did they do next? And how has the industry been preparing to deal with rising demand for transport services?
How will the transportation sector make a comeback post-COVID?On May 17 2021, international travel became legal once more. A traffic light system recommended by the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce is now in operation.
- Green - Passengers coming from a green-coded country must take a COVID test before returning to the UK, and a PCR COVID test on or before their second day back in the country, but won’t need to quarantine when they return.
- Amber - Arrivals from an amber-coded country must quarantine for 10 days, take a COVID test before returning to the UK, and take a PCR COVID test on their second and eighth days back in the country, with a Test to Release option available on day five.
- Red - Travellers from red-coded countries must stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days, take a COVID test before returning to the UK, and take a COVID PCR test on their second and eighth days back in the country. Travel to red-coded countries is not advised, and shouldn’t be undertaken.
Meanwhile, on a UK level, offices are slowly reopening, and some commuters are back on the roads. And, also as of May 17 2021, it’s legal to stay overnight in the home of a friend or family member, in a hotel, or in other accommodation, so staycations have returned.
Customer demand ahead of the transport sector comeback
When the Government announced the date on which international travel could resume, holiday bookings surged, with many Brits hoping to experience sunshine in the summer months. EasyJet announced that its flight bookings from the UK jumped 337%, and package holidays 630%, in comparison to the week before.
We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel […] This […] signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.
—Johan Lundgren, EasyJet
However, a solid section of the UK public aren’t ready to head overseas just yet, and staycation demand has soared as restrictions lift. It seems that people are desperate to get away, whether that’s four miles down the coast or 4,000 miles over the sea. And to do either, they’ll need transport.
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Transport sector trends amid the UK reopening
Trends in the transportation sector are changing in response to a post-COVID world. Some workers will never return to the daily commute, and many offices are adopting hybrid or home-working business models in 2021.
Recreationally, people are looking to make sustainable travel choices. In a 2020 survey, 60% of people reported that they were trying to make more environmentally friendly and ethical purchasing decisions than they had been pre-pandemic [Accenture].
While these trends may appear to have a negative impact on the sector, for innovative brands willing to change with the times, the exact opposite might be true. Future-proofing the transport sector with green, sustainable solutions could create up to 15 million jobs [The Pep] and even raise demand. Driving Electric, for example, saw an increase of 3,177% in new car sales when comparing April 2020 to April 2021.
For businesses and franchises in the transport sector, this is the key thing to remember: Don’t expect things to return to how they were. Try, instead, to transform things to complement the new normal, as the UK slowly figures out for itself exactly what that will be.
Pursuing the goal of an environmentally sustainable and inclusive society requires a structural transformation of the economy, including both changes in the products and services on offer and production processes. This structural transformation, which would include the transport sector, has the potential to create decent work and protect workers and their families, if it is accompanied by suitable policies.
—Catherine Saget, ILO Team Leader
What government support is still available for businesses in the transportation sector?
Although the light is shining at the end of the tunnel (train pun intended), many transport businesses will still be struggling to come back from the negative impacts of the global pandemic. If your business is in need of support, options are still available. Here are some Government schemes that you might be eligible for:
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (open until September 2021)
- The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
- The Vat Deferral New Payment Scheme (open until 21st June 2021)
- Business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year covering retail, hospitality and leisure companies in England
- The Recovery Loan Scheme
- The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility
- The Coronavirus Restart Grant
- The Coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant
- The Local Restrictions Support Grants
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The transport sector’s post-COVID comeback is full of opportunity
As the transport sector opens back up and recovers from the effects of the past year, so will many other sectors, like travel and tourism. Whatever the type of franchising opportunity you’re interested in, a win for the travel sector is a win for you, too. Stay up to date with the latest news, and browse Point Franchise’s collection of articles for more on-the-pulse franchise advice and guidance.
Cara Squires, Point Franchise ©