Gatwick Airport in the UK has urged the government to relax travel rules and is also in talks with banks over debt as it posted a first-half loss of £244.6m.

Due to less passenger demand and government restrictions, the airport recorded a lacklustre performance in the six months to June 2021, with negative EBITDA of -£50.2m and revenue slumping 70.7% to £42.3m.

The second-largest airport in the UK saw just 600,000 passengers in the first six months of 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related international travel bans.

A year ago, the airport handled 7.5 million passengers, though even this was a steep fall from the first half of 2019 figure of 22.2 million, prior to the onset of the pandemic.

At the end of June 2021, the airport had £779m in liquidity, which it said is enough to meet its interest payments, planned investment levels, and operating cashflows for the next 12 months.

Additionally, Gatwick is in discussions with its banks over a temporary waiver of its loan terms due to the pandemic hit.

The airport also urged the government to take measures to simplify travel requirements in order to improve passenger confidence in international travel.

According to Gatwick, because of simpler travel rules, passengers in the US and Europe are able to move more freely in comparison to the UK.

Furthermore, it called on the government to take advantage of the vaccination programme. Currently, 75% of the adults in the UK are said to have taken two vaccination dosages.

In European countries, such as Germany and France, travel bookings are at a 50% average of pre-pandemic levels, while in the UK it is around 16%, stated Gatwick.

To improve traveller frequency, Gatwick Airport suggested the UK Government remove the Covid-19 test requirement for travellers from ‘green’ countries, as well as for double vaccinated travellers from countries in the UK’s amber list.

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Our government needs to act now and remove unnecessary and costly PCR testing requirements for passengers, particularly for those double vaccinated.

“UK travel recovery should not be allowed to lag behind the US and Europe. Passengers need the travel rules simplified so they can choose to travel more freely and enjoy much-needed breaks and reunions with family and friends, which are currently much more attainable for those in Europe and the US.”