Aviation bosses have today warned that the UK’s airlines and airports are falling behind European competitors due to stricter government travel rules.
Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye told MPs that “the UK aviation sector will go from one of the strongest in the world to one of the weakest in the world” post-Covid due to a slow recovery.
The UK has some of the strictest travel rules in Europe, with day two PCR tests required for everyone who enters the country, regardless of vaccination status.
There is also still hotel quarantine for anyone entering from one of the 54 red list countries. No other country on the continent has mandatory hotel quarantine.
Aviation bosses told parliament’s Transport Select Committee that the UK’s airlines and airports had recovered much slower than their European competitors.
British Airways is operating in quarter three at 40 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity, while carriers like KLM, Air France and Lufthansa are operating at around 70 per cent.
Sophie Dekkers, chief commercial officer at EasyJet, said “the UK is lagging behind Europe”.
“Nowhere else in Europe do they have testing like this,” she said.
Heathrow Airport, which has had losses of around £3bn over the past 15 months, is seeing cargo volumes down 20 per cent due to the loss of long haul flying.
Holland-Kaye said the slow recovery will put the UK’s post-Brexit trade agenda at risk.
“If the UK wants to be a winner, we need to be much more thoughtful and progressive in using our air routes as our international trade routes and making sure they stay open in difficult times to keep British businesses moving and protecting jobs in the UK,” he said.
He added: “We’ve seen no support at all from government for aviation that is any different from the other sectors.”