Double-stick pilots should be able to travel freely WITHOUT Covid testing, Gatwick airport boss says as numbers show UK airline numbers rebound much more slowly than the rest of Europe
- Gatwick says passenger numbers in Europe returned to 60% of pre-Covid level
- Meanwhile, data shows that the number of passengers in the UK is still just 30%
- Bosses say scrapping tests for double-stick travelers would be a ‘lifeline’
Gatwick airport bosses have called for double-shot passenger testing to be scrapped, saying the UK’s airline sector is rebounding much more slowly than the rest of Europe.
The airport says comparable data shows that the UK is suffering from the requirement.
The current rules mean that even those who have received a double jab and fly from a green-listed country must provide proof of a negative Covid test within two days of landing in the UK.
The airport says bookings in Europe – where testing regulations are more relaxed – are at 60 percent of pre-Covid levels, while in the UK they remain at 30 percent.
Bosses at Gatwick have called for double-shot traveler testing to be scrapped
Recently released comparable data shows that the UK’s aviation sector is recovering more slowly than Europe
In a statement, the airport said it called on the government to give the British aviation industry a “lifeline” by not testing travelers who have been double-vaccinated.
The airport says that with evidence, double-vaccinated travelers can currently enter most European countries without being tested, including France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Germany.
It has suggested that passengers who have not been double vaccinated should take a lateral flow test and then, if it is positive, take a PCR test.
Quarantine must remain for those flying in from red list countries, it has said.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick, said: ‘Now that vaccination coverage across Europe is comparable, if not better, than in the UK, it’s time to scrap testing altogether for travelers who have received a double shot.
“Other countries have done this and their airline sectors are recovering much faster, with bookings recovering in Europe twice as fast as in the UK.
Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate (pictured) says travel restrictions are out of step with the rest of Europe and hamper the recovery of the airline sector
“Our ongoing travel restrictions are inconsistent with much of Europe and continue to have a real impact on jobs and livelihoods, business and growth opportunities, while also keeping friends and family apart.
“Passenger confidence in the UK has been breached and the UK travel industry urgently needs a lifeline so we can recover properly from the most difficult period in our history.”
Travelers returning to the UK from government green list countries, as well as fully vaccinated passengers arriving from amber countries, are currently required to pay for a PCR test within two days of arriving in the UK.
Those arriving from amber countries who have not been double stung will have to pay for tests on days two and eight, and 10 days in self-isolation upon entry into the UK.
PCR travel tests, which must be purchased privately from a list of government-approved providers, cost around £75 in the UK on average.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) last month urged No10 to pay for double-shot traveler testing or replace the PCR requirement with cheaper lateral flow testing.
Pictured: Materials in a Covid-19 self-test kit obtained from a Liverpool drive-through center
There are dozens of options available for just £20, according to the government’s list of approved Covid PCR testing providers.
But some of the companies mentioned are even charging almost five times that amount.
The WTTC, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, also warned last week that unless international travel is opened up more widely, with simplified controls, the UK will suffer a £59.4bn loss.
The WTTC says this is based on pre-pandemic levels in 2019 and estimates it will be lost to the UK economy if travel is restricted in the last quarter of 2021, and additionally £8.9bn would be lost may be due purely to the lack of spending on inbound travel within the UK.