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Air Transport: Heathrow calls on Government to act faster

Heathrow has called on Government to act faster in order to protect jobs and unlock growth. The outbreak of COVID-19and the resultant pandemic continues to weigh on travel demand, with a drop in passenger numbers of over 95% compared to the start of last year’s summer season.

(Heathrow Airport Ltd)

The Government’s quarantine policy for international arrivals has impacted load factors, which declined by 7% following its introduction in early June, compared to 2019. The airport believes an exit plan is now more critical than ever, as long-haul flights remain grounded and more jobs continue to be put at risk in an industry crucial to rebuilding the UK economy

Whilst steps toward travel corridors in July provide some hope for an initial recovery, further pace is needed to move past quarantine. The airport is urging the Government to act faster on establishing Common International Standards that would allow safer travel to critical trading routes

Heathrow is also ready to host the UK’s first pilot ‘Test-on-Arrival’ procedure from Collinson and ground handling company Swissport. The pilot, which is subject to Government approval, could allow COVID-negative passengers arriving from higher risk countries to enter the UK without the need to quarantine. In addition, the airport is trialling a number of technologies and processes to keep the the terminals COVID-secure as travel resumes, including the existing temperature testing trials and exploring the use of UV sanitation to quickly and efficiently disinfect key touchpoints in the passenger journey.

Whilst overall cargo tonnage in June was down by over 30% compared with 2019, Heathrow saw a record-breaking day for cargo-only flights on 6th June, with 140 movements in one day.

Cargo flights have continued to bring vital medical supplies to London Heathrow for onward distribution around the UK

(Kevan James)

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:“Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kick-start the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world. We’re ready to pilot a testing system on arrival for passengers from “red” countries as an alternative to quarantine, but even better would be to test passengers before they get on a plane. This requires a Common International Standard for testing, which the UK government could take a global lead in setting up.”

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