The bosses of the UK’s airports have today written to Boris Johnson to urge him to speed up the reopening of international travel.
In an open letter, they said that the UK’s “overly cautious” approach to letting people travel again could put 1.5m jobs in aviation and travel at risk.
“Naturally airports understand the Government’s desire to adopt a cautious approach – a further lockdown would be hugely damaging”, they wrote.
“Nevertheless, we believe the current extremely limited green list of countries demonstrates that the UK is being overly cautious and will fail to grasp the opportunities resulting from the successful roll-out of the vaccine.”
Currently there are just twelve countries on the UK’s travel green list, with Portugal the only established holiday destination to make the list.
The list is due to be reviewed on 9 June, but last night Johnson suggested it was very unlikely that many countries would be added.
“I don’t expect we will be adding to it very rapidly, and indeed we will be maintaining a very tough border regime for the foreseeable future”, he told a press conference.
The letter, which was signed by more than 20 chief execs, including those of Heathrow and Gatwick, also called for more work to be done to ease disruption at the border.
Travellers at Heathrow have been facing queues up to six hours long due to the extra checks currently required. These will be automated in time, but at the moment have to be carried out by hand.
It also said that the government should work to make testing more affordable – a step it said it was trying to do – and reduce restrictions on those travellers who had been fully vaccinated.
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges the travel industry has faced as a result of the pandemic, and have supported the sector with around £7bn for loans and job retention schemes.
“The green list makes clear which countries do not require quarantine upon return, while safeguarding public health as we cautiously unlock international travel.
“The lists will be reviewed every three weeks from 17 May, informed by the latest scientific data.