The latest traffic figures from London’s Heathrow Airport shows an 81.5 percent drop in passenger demand in August compared to the same period in 2019. Among the hardest-hit was the critical North American traffic, with passenger numbers down over 95 per cent in August.
“Long haul markets, which are critical for UK exporters and a main source of inbound tourism, students and investment, remain closed by the government’s 14 day quarantine policy,” the airport warned in a statement.
Instead of broad-brush quarantine measures, the airport is urging the UK government to follow the lead of Airports Council International, which is calling for global efforts to introduce testing-on-arrival as an alternative.
“More than 30 airports are already using testing as a safe alternative to 14-day quarantine and getting their economies moving,” read a Heathrow statement. “Frankfurt airport has overtaken Heathrow, an early warning that Britain’s economy will fall behind if we don’t protect our global trading network.”
Recent trials of rapid COVID-19 testing solutions at LHR, as well as facilities that are ready to test passengers on arrival, are part of the airport’s plan to be ready should the government agree to less draconian measures to contain the spread of the virus.
“Heathrow’s traffic figures for August demonstrate the extent to which quarantine is strangling the economy, cutting British businesses off from their international markets and blocking international students, tourists and investors from coming here to spend money,” warned the airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye.
“The government has announced it is looking at the options for reducing quarantine for passengers who test negative for COVID-19, but ministers urgently need to turn words into action. Every day of further government delay costs British jobs and livelihoods.”