Heathrow CEO: we need testing, fast

By Bev Fearis, published 29/07/20

Heathrow is putting pressure on the UK Government to implement traveller testing to re-open travel and trade.

It says pre-flight Covid-19 testing for passengers from high risk countries will allow long-haul flying to resume, which is critical for the UK’s economic recovery.

As the airport reported a 96% drop in passenger numbers for first half of this year, CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the Government – 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.”

Heathrow said the Government’s risk-based approach to allow quarantine-free flights from low and medium risk countries only covers 30% of the airport’s markets. It anticipates a gradual recovery as countries reopen borders, but believes 2020 passenger volumes will be more than 60% lower than 2019.

It added that cash reserves are sufficient until at least June 2021 with no revenue.