UK travel rules are hampering Mallorca's tourism. | Efe

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Airlines and holiday companies in the UK are planning a "day of action" on Wednesday to ramp up pressure on the government to ease travel restrictions, with just weeks to go before the start of the peak summer season.

Travel companies, whose finances have been stretched to breaking point during the pandemic, are desperate to avoid another summer lost to Covid. But with Britain's strict quarantine requirements still in place that now looks likely.

As the clock ticks down to July, Europe's biggest airline Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group on Thursday launched legal action to try to get the government to ease the rules before the industry's most profitable season starts.

This coming Wednesday, pilots, cabin crew and travel agents will gather in Westminster and at airports across Britain to try to drum up support.

Britain's aviation industry has been harder hit by the pandemic than its European peers, according to data published by pilots trade union BALPA on Sunday.

This shows that daily arrivals and departures in the UK were down 73% on an average day earlier this month compared to before the pandemic, the biggest drop in Europe. Spain, Greece and France were down less than 60%.

The government has had to balance the risks of foreign holidays bringing new variants of the virus into Britain, justice minister Robert Buckland has told the BBC. Public Health England official Susan Hopkins says that people should predominantly holiday at home this summer while the population is vaccinated.

But time is running out for the industry. "There is no time to hide behind task forces and reviews," insists BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton.

"BALPA is demanding that the UK government gets its act together and opens the US routes and European holiday travel destinations that it has blocked with no published evidence at all."

Over 45,000 jobs have already been lost in UK aviation, with estimates suggesting that 860,000 aviation, travel and tourism jobs are being sustained only by government furlough schemes.