Heathrow has warned the UK is “falling behind” the EU in its recovery from Covid-19 due to current travel restrictions and testing requirements.
The airport said 3.9 million passengers travelled through Heathrow during the first half of 2021 – the equivalent of just 18 days of operation in 2019. Although demand is now increasing from these “historic lows”.
While recent lifting of some restrictions have been welcomed by the UK’s hub airport, it warned existing barriers “continue to bite” and were being removed too slowly.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye added: “The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.
“Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain’s economic recovery off the ground.”
The airport said that under the current testing requirements and restrictions it could end up catering for fewer passengers this year than during 2020.
Heathrow also stated that while trade routes between the EU and US had now recovered to nearly 50% of pre-Covid levels, the routes between the UK and US were still 92% down.
So far, the airport has lost £2.9 billion due to the pandemic and has cut operating costs by 35% over this period as well as reducing capital expenditure by 77%.