Heathrow calls for relaxation of long-haul restrictions

Heathrow has called on the government to restore long-haul routes as it stepped up Covid-19 safety measures.

More than half of the London hub’s network remains grounded due to limited government exemptions to quarantine rules.

Heathrow warned that more work is needed to safely restore long-haul services.

Chief executive John Holland Kaye, said: “We have reviewed the entire Heathrow airport experience to ensure that our passengers and colleagues are kept safe as travel resumes to ‘Green’ and ‘Amber’ countries.

“Now we need government to safely restore Britain’s long-haul connections as the country prepares for life outside the EU, with common international standards for Covid testing from ‘Red’ countries.”

His comments came as Heathrow starts the trial of cleaning robots as part of a raft of new anti-viral measures to cut the risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19.

Heathrow robot

The robots use UV rays to “quickly and efficiently” kill viruses and bacteria at night.

UV handrail technology is being fitted to escalators to ensure continuous disinfection of the moving handrails.

Self-cleaning anti-viral wraps are being fitted to security trays, lift buttons, trolley and door handles. The wraps work by coating high-touch surfaces in a material with long-lasting anti-viral protection, according to the airport.

Heathrow is retraining 100 staff to serve as “hygiene technicians” who disinfect the airport and answer passenger queries on the methods being used.

“The technicians will continuously monitor the effectiveness of the new technologies and help to inform plans to roll these projects out across the entire airport,” Heathrow said.

The airport is also reviewing technologies which could remove the need for passengers to touch self-service check-in machines, allowing them to control the kiosks from their phones.

Apple is trialling informative alerts to passengers arriving at Heathrow, directing iOS users to the latest guidance on travelling through the airport.

Heathrow has already installed Perspex barriers in security areas and in some shops, required compulsory face coverings and introduced one-way systems.

Temperature testing technology introduced in May “continues to perform well in a live operational environment, with the potential to quickly and seamlessly screen passengers with minimal impact to the passenger journey”.

The airport said it is in “ongoing talks” with government on next steps.

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