Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London, UK, has called on the government to make changes to travel rules as passenger numbers at the airport remained 71% down in August this year compared to August in 2019 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The airport has slipped to tenth place among Europe’s busiest airports from the top spot in 2019.
It blamed the lack of a common approach across borders, changing restrictions, as well as expensive and unnecessary testing requirements as the key factors hindering the UK’s recovery.
The airport further stated that its EU competitors including Schiphol, Paris and Frankfurt are recovering at a much faster pace, with their cargo volumes reaching pre-pandemic levels at the end of last year.
It added that the cargo volumes at Heathrow are still down by 14% compared to August 2019.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “The Government has the tools to protect the UK’s international competitiveness, which will boost the economic recovery and achieve its Global Britain ambitions.
“If Ministers fail to take this opportunity to streamline the travel rules then the UK will fall further behind as trade and tourists will increasingly bypass the UK.”
The traffic light system implemented by the government is said to have been providing a competitive advantage to its rivals and also delaying the government’s Global Britain ambitions, stated the airport.
Heathrow’s proposals, which include the removal of the amber list and create a safe but simple two-tier system, a green list and red list, retaining hotel quarantine, has been backed by major airlines and the wider travel and tourism industry.
The airport suggested that tests must not be mandatory for fully vaccinated travellers, while the passengers who are yet to receive vaccination should take a pre-departure and arrival test using lateral flow, following up with a PCR test if positive.
In a statement, Heathrow said: “The government’s Global Travel Taskforce is set to review the UK’s travel regime in the coming weeks, and we urge ministers to streamline the system to get travel levels and the economic activity safely back to pre-pandemic levels, otherwise the UK will continue to lose trade and face lower levels of foreign tourism, impacting jobs and slowing the UK’s economic recovery.”