The boss of Heathrow airport has urged the government to sanction a Covid testing regime for air passengers, warning the country otherwise risks being drawn into a game of "quarantine roulette".
Heathrow chief John Holland-Kaye revealed on Wednesday (29 July) the airport recorded a first half (six months to 30 June) adjusted loss before tax of £471 million, which he said should serve as a "clarion call" to government to establish an alternative to quarantine for Covid-free passengers and allow more flying to resume – boosting the economy.
Passenger numbers at Britain’s busiest airport fell 96% during its second quarter (three months to 30 June) "as global aviation came to a virtual standstill".
While Heathrow is forecasting a "gradual recovery" as countries reopen their borders, it still expects 2020 passenger numbers to come in more than 60% down on 2019.
Q2 revenue, meanwhile, fell 85% to £119 million, while adjusted Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) came in down £93 million.
“Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the government," said Holland-Kaye. "The UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette.
"As many of our customers have experienced, it’s difficult to plan a holiday that way, let alone run a business. Testing offers a way to safely open up travel and trade to some of the UK’s biggest markets which currently remain closed.
"Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing, if the UK doesn’t act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan.”