Heathrow has asked the UK Government for permission to allow British citizens who are from countries on the red list to stay at home and not in hotels, in order to enjoy Christmas with their families.
Britain’s largest airport also called for travel restrictions to be loosened as ‘soon as it is safe to do so’ as it warned that the latest curbs are continuing to weaken passenger confidence.
The declaration was made after it showed that the November passenger numbers were still 60% lower than pre-pandemic levels, even though they increased by over 300 percent in the same month last years.
Slow recovery. Heathrow has revealed that the passenger flow through Heathrow’s airport was 60 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels in November.
Airport officials stated that the main reason behind the decline in performance was the cancellation of many business travel plans by travellers concerned about staying abroad due to pre-departure screening.
New travel restrictions have been imposed all over the world due to growing fears about Omicron and people are being more cautious when traveling abroad for business meetings or holidays.
Eleven African countries are now on the UK Government’s red list. Only UK and Irish citizens and people with residence rights can travel to England, if they were in that country in the ten previous days.
Recent travel rules require that all England-bound travelers over 12 years old must show proof of a positive Covid test within 2 days of landing. They also need to quarantine for 10 days in hotels after arrival.
After arriving to England, they must take a PCR test and another on or after their eighth day in quarantining. Failure to comply with the rules risks a fine of up to £10,000.
Tourism and the travel industry are among those who have criticized these actions as an excessive response that could cause even greater financial hardship to an industry already severely affected by the pandemic.
Forecasts Heathrow Airport expects that demand will slow next year but it is expecting to see 45 million passengers flying to its facilities.
John Holland Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said that by allowing Brits not to be isolated at home Ministers could ensure their Christmas with loved ones.
‘It would send a strong signal that restrictions on travel will be removed as soon as safely possible to give passengers the confidence to book for 2022, opening up thousands of new jobs for local people at Heathrow. Let’s unite families to celebrate Christmas.
Although the airport expects that there will be a slower start to demand in 2019, it anticipates having 45 million passengers flying to its facilities in 2022. This compares to 16.3 million who visited Heathrow during the first eleven months of 2021.
This would mean that passenger numbers are slightly higher than 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
The company also doesn’t believe that international travel can rebound to prepandemic levels until restrictions on travel in the UK as well the markets served are lifted and there is no risk of it returning.