Failing to extend the green list from 7 June will cost the UK billions, Heathrow has warned.
The government is due to update the traffic lights system in the next few days. Ahead of this, new research for Heathrow puts the airport’s contribution to the UK’s coffers at more than £16 billion.
The airport said a substantial part of this income could be lost if the green list is not extended, particularly to the US. New research from economic forecasters CEBR estimates leisure and business passengers arriving at the airport spend more than £16 billion throughout the UK.
US visitors arriving via Heathrow contributed £3.74 billion or 23% of this figure, CEBR estimates, with the New York route alone providing 21 million passengers in 2019.
“This highlights the urgent need to restore the UK’s transatlantic routes – by adding the US to the green list at the earliest opportunity,” the airport said. “These visitors support towns and cities across the UK, with total spend from US passengers contributing over £700 million to the Scottish economy alone, according to Visit Britain.”
It added: “Italy has opened its doors to fully vaccinated American travellers, and France is preparing to follow suit. If EU countries continue to move quickly and more efficiently to restore their US links, then the UK could end up giving these economic opportunities away to the EU, just as the government is supposed to be laying the groundwork for its Global Britain ambitions.”
Visits to the UK in 2020 were 73% down on pre-pandemic levels, according to the Office for National Statistics. This caused total visitor expenditure to drop by 78% from 2019 levels to £6.2 billion.