UK holidaymakers could have paid more than £1bn for Covid tests this summer, a crippling levy that has kept the lid on the travel and aviation sector’s recovery.
Research from the Evening Standard suggests that 5m passengers have taken a total of 11.5m PCR tests in the period from May to September.
With each test costing an average of £93, according to analysis from all-party parliamentary group for the future of aviation, that gives a total bill of £1.1bn.
The 11.5m figure is based on estimates from travel agents the PC Agency.
Throughout the summer travel bosses have repeatedly called for the government to reduce the cost of PCR tests, which have made travelling extortionately expensive for many families.
Unlike in Europe, where many governments have tried to regulate the price of the tests, ministers have allowed private providers to set their own prices.
Last month the UK’s competition watchdog has warned of a potential crackdown on PCR Covid test providers amid concerns they may be breaking consumer law.
In an open letter the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns about a number of harmful practices in the sector.
These included advertising up-front prices for PCR tests that do not include additional charges, advertising cheap tests that are only available in small numbers, failing to deliver tests or provide results within stated timescales — or at all — and refusing to give refunds when advertised services are not provided.
The new research came as it was reported that the government was plotting a complete overhaul of the existing travel traffic light system in October.
According to reports, the green and amber lists could go altogether, to be replaced by a system where vaccinated travellers can go to countries with similarly high levels of vaccination without isolating on return. The red list will remain.
The Times said that Day 2 PCR tests could also be scrapped.
Speaking to City A.M., the chief executive of the Business Travel Assocation (BTA) said that there should be no testing at all for fully vaccinated people.