Heathrow calls for rule changes to revitalize UK’s struggling travel industry as it slides off Europe’s busiest airports list
- UK’s busiest airport saw 71% fewer passengers in August compared to 2019
- Heathrow has fallen from first to 10th in the list of Europe’s busiest airports
- The UK travel sector is recovering more slowly than European competitors
- Heathrow pushes for a two-tier system to replace current complex arrangements
Heathrow has called for changes to travel rules to help the struggling travel industry recover as the UK’s largest airport revealed passenger numbers were 71 percent lower in August than before Covid-19 hit.
Since 2019, the airport has plummeted from first to 10th place in the list of Europe’s busiest airports, with Heathrow blaming the complicated, expensive and constantly changing rules for British arrivals for the glacial recovery in the country’s travel sector. .
The expectation is growing that a simplification of those travel rules will come, after Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday that he wants to get rid of expensive PCR tests for travelers as soon as possible.
Long queues have led to calls for more border staff at the airport
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out his plans this week to contain the pandemic in the winter months.
Heathrow supports a shift from a three-tier system to a two-tier system, with countries labeled “green” or “red,” and only the latter requiring hotel quarantine.
Fully vaccinated travelers would be able to travel freely, the system is used by many European countries, while those not vaccinated would undergo pre-departure or arrival tests using lateral flow tests, which are cheaper than PCR tests.
Despite long lines, passenger numbers remain well below 2019 levels
The airport said major airlines supported the idea because it warned of the consequences of not improving the current system.
“If ministers don’t take this opportunity to streamline travel rules, the UK will fall further behind as trade and tourists increasingly bypass the UK,” said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO.
The airport also called on the government to ensure adequate staffing at the border after reports of hours-long queues in recent weeks.