Manchester Airport voices concern about UK travel system

Bosses at the facility say the system is holding back recovery despite a recent increase in traffic for July 

Manchester Airport has voiced its concern over the state of the recovery of UK travel.  

According to the facility, the country’s traffic light travel system is causing the aviation sector to recover at half the rate of the rest of Europe. 

Manchester Airport
Photo Manchester Airport

In recently released July figures, passenger levels were down 85.9% for the same month in 2019 when the airport served nearly 3.2 million passengers compared to just 447,954 last month.  

The recent addition of countries to the ‘Green’ travel list on August 4 has brought an increase in customer numbers however they remain well below pre-pandemic levels, with a recent study by Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) showing that European airports are serving 59% of pre-pandemic traffic compared to just 28% in the UK.  

With just three weeks of the peak summer season remaining, Karen Smart, Manchester Airport managing director, said: “The requirement for passengers to pay for PCR tests, even when fully vaccinated and returning from low-risk destinations, was ‘out of step’ with the rest of Europe and holding back the recovery of UK airports and airlines.” 

Currently, British nationals returning to the UK from green list destinations are required to undergo a PCR test on day two after arrival along with those returning from amber destinations that have received a full course of a vaccine. From August 2 arrivals from the US and most European nations have also been able to enter the UK under the same rules.  

The UK Government is requiring PCR tests in order to sequence the results to identify variants of concern, however official data has shown only around 5% of tests are actually being sent for sequencing.  

Smart added: “While it is encouraging that more people are taking the opportunity to go on holiday or visit friends and family overseas, we are still yet to see a meaningful recovery in international travel. We won’t see a proper sustained recovery until the UK overhauls its costly and restrictive travel regime, which is out of step with the rest of Europe. UK passengers continue to be subjected to onerous and expensive PCR testing on the basis they will be sequenced to protect the UK from variants of concern, but it is clear this is not happening.”