Heathrow hits out against government for ‘undermining consumer confidence’

Targeted supporrt is needed for the “beleaguered” travel industry, Heathrow demanded today after revealing a loss of more than six million passengers in May.

The London hub has faced 15 consecutive months of supressed demand, with passenger numbers languishing at 90% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

The airport criticised the government’s failure to clarify decisions affecting the traffic light system which was expected to unlock foreign travel.

A Heathrow statement said: “One month after government hailed the restart of international travel and assured the public that a risk-based traffic light system would unlock low-risk travel, the system has yet to achieve what it was designed to do.

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“Ministers’ refusal to provide transparency on the data behind the decision making and failure to introduce a green ‘watchlist’ has undermined consumer confidence.

“At the next review on June 28, the government must rely on the science and restart travel to low-risk countries like the US, clear a pathway to restriction-free travel for vaccinated passengers and replace expensive PCR tests with lateral flow for low-risk arrivals.

“With ministers now promising to prioritise the domestic unlock and no clear end date to travel restrictions, a bespoke support plan for the beleaguered and neglected travel industry must be forthcoming.

“The sector employs tens of thousands of people across Britain who will be wondering what will happen to their jobs and livelihoods after another lost summer.

“The government should provide targeted compensation to the sector, starting with business rates relief and an extension to the furlough scheme whilst ministers continue to keep travel locked down.”

The airport reiterated its call for the reopening of “critical” transatlantic travel after the bosses of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic joined forces with Heathrow to stress the need to safely reopen the North Atlantic corridor to the US.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “With the G7 starting today, ministers have a chance to kick-start the green global recovery by agreeing how to resume international travel safely and setting a mandate for sustainable aviation fuels that will decarbonise aviation.  This is the time for them to show global leadership.

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