The operator of Heathrow Airport has appealed for the UK government to do more to protect jobs and businesses in the sector, as travel demand remains stubbornly low.
The airport stated that the government’s quarantine policy for international arrivals affected load factors, which declined by 7% following its introduction in early June compared with 2019. Therefore, it stated that an exit plan from the measures is now more critical than ever, as long-haul flights remain grounded.
The airport operator said that while steps toward travel corridors in July provide some hope for an initial recovery, further pace is needed to move past quarantine and urged the government to act faster on establishing Common International Standards that would allow safer travel to critical trading routes.
Meanwhile, the airport claimed it stands ready to host the UK’s first pilot ‘Test-on-Arrival’ procedure from Collinson and Swissport. The pilot, which is subject to government approval, could allow Covid-negative passengers arriving from higher risk countries to enter the UK without the need to quarantine.
In addition, Heathrow is trialling a number of technologies and processes to keep the airport Covid-secure as travel resumes, including the existing temperature testing trials and exploring the use of UV sanitation to quickly and efficiently disinfect key touchpoints in the passenger journey.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye emphasized, “Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kickstart the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world. We’re ready to pilot a testing system on arrival for passengers from ‘red’ countries as an alternative to quarantine, but even better would be to test passengers before they get on a plane. This requires a Common International Standard for testing, which the UK government could take a global lead in setting up.”
On a positive note, though overall cargo tonnage in June was down by over 30% compared with 2019, Heathrow reported a record-breaking day for cargo-only flights on June 6, with 140 movements in one day.