Heathrow Airport has called on the US to lift its travel restrictions on the UK with passengers numbers still 80 per cent lower than before the pandemic.
The airport said that in July over 1.5 million travellers passed through the travel hub – the busiest month since lockdowns began in March 2020 – but warned that overall numbers were still down compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Heathrow, the busiest airport in Britain and before Covid-19 the busiest in Europe, said that the Government needed to do more to help travel return to even close to 2019 levels.
It also called for travel PCR tests to be scrapped and replaced with cheaper lateral flow tests to make travel more inclusive.
The figures do not yet reflect the UK’s decision last month to allow fully-vaccinated people from the US and EU to the UK without needing to quarantine, which will likely lead to a significant uptick in passengers.
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The easing of restrictions is just one-way however and the US continues to ban passengers entering from the UK. The rule has been in place for nearly 18 months.
“With fully vaccinated US visitors now able to travel to the UK without the need to quarantine, the joint UK/US travel taskforce must capitalise on the UK’s world-leading vaccine rollout and reach a reciprocal agreement for fully vaccinated UK travellers,” a spokesperson said.
Heathrow Airport and airlines like British Airways have criticised the Government for not easing travel restrictions quickly enough despite its fast vaccine roll-out and for complicated rules which continue to include expensive coronavirus tests.
Last month, the government allowed fully vaccinated Britons to travel to medium risk countries without needing to quarantine on return, boosting passenger numbers by 74 per cent compared to July last year.
Heathrow said that US carrier JetBlue was due to start flying between London and New York later this week, in a sign of growing confidence in travel.
North American passenger numbers grew by nearly 230 per cent on July 2020 and New York’s JFK airport reclaimed the top spot as Heathrow’s most popular route, the airport said.
Heathrow’s chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “Finally, some blue skies are on the horizon, as travel and trade routes slowly reopen.
“The job though is far from complete. Government must now capitalise on the vaccine dividend and seize the opportunity to replace expensive PCR tests with more affordable lateral flow tests.
“This will ensure travel remains attainable for hardworking Brits, desperate for well-earned getaways and keen to reunite with loved ones before the summer travel window closes.”
Originally Appeared On: https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/us-travel-ban-uk-rules-covid-heathrow-airport-america-passenger-numbers-1145502