Following the extension of the UK government’s approved travel list, Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate has warned that the UK is a long way off a meaningful restart for international travel.
In a recent shakeup to the watchlist, the UK government announced that from August 8, arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list where those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway were added to the green list on Sunday August 8, as they now pose a low risk to UK public health.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
In contrast, Georgia, Réunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known Covid-19 variants of concern.
UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said, “We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination program, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world. While we must continue to be cautious, the changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and traveling public.”
However, while welcoming the extension of the green list, Wingate has said that greater financial support is needed from government, particularly when it comes to protecting jobs.
“The extension of the green list is a positive step forward and demonstrates that people can travel safely and with confidence,” he said. “However, we continue to face a long road to recovery with passenger numbers remaining at historically low levels that continue to lag behind our European competitors. We urge the government to continue to open up travel and to tackle the high cost of testing, which remains a barrier to travel for many. With the ending of the job retention scheme on the horizon we also urge government for specific financial support to help our aviation industry through the challenging months ahead.
“Any extension to the green list is welcome, but we remain a long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel and the government must recognize this and provide the support that will protect jobs across the industry.”
Similarly, Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, which operates Manchester, East Midlands and London Stansted airports, said, “We welcome the movement of more countries to the green and amber lists, in what is effectively the final review of the traffic light lists before the end of the summer holidays.
“Together with the new freedoms for fully vaccinated travelers, these changes will enable more people to enjoy a holiday, or reconnect with friends and family, in a growing list of countries.
“It is encouraging to finally see decisions that reflect the data on the ground in these destinations and close the gap with the approach being taken in other countries.
“Despite these positive moves, it is hugely disappointing that the UK is still so far behind in reopening international travel and has not gone further to support recovery of the aviation sector.
“Government must now take this opportunity to develop a stable, sustainable and affordable system that gives people the confidence to book ahead through the winter and into next year.”