The UK government is urging travellers to avoid taking hand luggage on to a plane in a bid to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Grant Shapps, the UK transport secretary, described the guidelines as “a positive next step” for the beleaguered aviation industry.

The consensus in the travel industry is that this is a welcome way to pave the way to resuming travel and a way to bolster income raised by hold luggage placements.

Not everyone agrees. Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, argues that it is “nonsensical advice” and that it is safer to carry on bags rather than check in their luggage. Cabin bags are handled only by the passengers which minimise the risk of physical contact with other people. Regarding boarding speeds the airline says their maximum bag rules ensure that the boarding process speed is not affected.

However, airlines and tour operators are urging the government to abandon the controversial self-isolation rules for arrivals into the UK and implement “air bridges” to selected destinations.

In the meantime, three of Europe’s largest airlines, BA, Easyjet and Ryanair are joining forces to sue the government over the “flawed” 14-day quarantine rules for arrivals. They say they are happy to accept the rules if they apply to arrivals from high-risk countries.

The Government guidance also advises passengers to wear face coverings in airports, wash hands regularly after touching surfaces, maintain social distancing as much as possible at the airport and remain seated during flights, as much as possible.

Shapps said:

“The government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.”

EasyJet charges between £6.99 and £34.99 for hold luggage up to 15kg and up to £37.49 for hold luggage up to 23kg.

Ryanair charges between £10 and £25 for check-in baggage up to 10kg and up to £35 for 20kg.

Ryanair is to begin flying with 1,000 daily flights from 1 July and easyJet will restart from June 15.

The current advice from FCO is to avoid all but essential travel.