Heathrow urges government to ditch amber list

The hub looks to the new travel review in securing UK's competitiveness

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) believes the key to securing international competitiveness lies in the upcoming travel review due on September 16.  

Passenger numbers remained 71% down in August, versus pre-pandemic numbers, as the ever-changing restrictions take their toll on operations at the airport.  

London Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

From being the busiest airport in Europe in 2019, Heathrow is now tenth as rivals such as Schiphol, Paris and Frankfurt are all recovering at a faster rate. These EU competitors also reached pre-pandemic cargo volumes by December 2020, while cargo at the UK’s biggest port is still down 14%, compared to August 2019.  

The UK Government's Global Travel Taskforce is set to review the country’s travel regime in the coming days. The airport is urging Ministers to streamline the system to get traffic levels and the economic activity safely back to pre-pandemic levels.  

Heathrow’s proposal is for the Government to remove the amber list and create a safe but simple two-tier system, a green list and red list, retaining hotel quarantine. 

The airport also recommend that fully vaccinated travellers should not be required to take a test, while those who are not vaccinated should continue to take a pre-departure and arrival test using lateral flow, following up with a PCR test if positive.  

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, said: “The Government has the tools to protect the UK’s international competitiveness which will boost the economic recovery and achieve its Global Britain ambitions.”  

“If Ministers fail to take this opportunity to streamline the travel rules then the UK will fall further behind as trade and tourists will increasingly by-pass the UK.”