Heathrow reports £2.9bn loss and demands rule change for vaccinated passengers

Less than four million travellers passed through Heathrow in first six months of 2021

London’s Heathrow Airport has reported £2.9 billion ($4bn) in Covid-related losses, as it urged the UK government to open the country up to vaccinated EU and US travellers.

The busiest airport in Europe before the pandemic, Heathrow said that less than four million people passed through in the first six months of 2021. In 2019, it would have taken only 18 days to hit that figure.

While demand is slightly picking up, Heathrow said expensive testing and travel restrictions were limiting the economic recovery.

The airport welcomed recent changes to the UK’s traffic light system, which will make it easier to many to travel to the UK, but said that more needed to be done.

In the first half of 2021, Heathrow reported pre-tax losses of £868m, compared to about £1.06 billion over the same period in 2020.

“The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions,” said chief executive John Holland-Kaye.

“Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain’s economic recovery off the ground.”

While PCR tests typically take at least 24 hours to produce a result, lateral flow tests can take as little as 30 minutes.

“Cargo volume at Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port, remains 18 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels, while Frankfurt and Schiphol are up by 9 per cent,” Heathrow said.

“Britain is losing out on tourism income and trade with key economic partners like the EU and US because ministers continue to restrict travel for passengers fully vaccinated outside the UK. Trade routes between the EU and the US have recovered to nearly 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels while the UK remains 92 per cent down.”

Updated: July 26th 2021, 9:06 AM
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