Airlines call on Government to scrap all Covid testing for passengers

5 January 2022, 09:37

Airlines have called for the immediate removal of Covid testing requirements for international passengers
Airlines have called for the immediate removal of Covid testing requirements for international passengers. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Airlines have called on the Government to completely scrap coronavirus testing requirements for all travellers arriving in the UK.

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Pre-departure and day two PCR testing were reintroduced for passengers in late November and early December in response to the spread of Omicron.

People who are not fully vaccinated are required to self-isolate for 10 days after they arrive.

But Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Airlines UK say research they commissioned into travel restrictions found domestic, not international, restrictions would be the only way to reduce the spread of Omicron.

The research also suggests passenger numbers at MAG airports fell by more than 30%.

Ryanair says passenger numbers on their slights dropped by 7% between November and December.

The call comes ahead of an expected travel restriction review by government on Wednesday.

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MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK boss Tim Alderslade released a joint statement on Tuesday saying the requirements could be removed "without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK".

"The Health Secretary rightly acknowledged as early as 8 December that the value of any form of restrictions was significantly reduced once Omicron became dominant in the UK," they wrote.

"This latest research by Oxera and Edge Health clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in full without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK.

"It should give the UK Government confidence to press ahead with the immediate removal of these emergency restrictions, giving people back the freedom to travel internationally to see loved ones, explore new places and generate new business opportunities."

Mr Cornish and Mr Alderslade said the restrictions "come at a huge cost to the travel industry" and the broader UK economy.

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Separate research commissioned by Oxera showed extra testing in response to Omicron reduced the UK aviation sector's contribution to the economy by £60m a week.

The UK Government moved to so-called Plan B restrictions last month to control the spread of Omicron, instructing people to work from home and increase mask wearing, while some travel curbs have also been imposed in a number of countries across Europe.

But the Government resisted further pandemic restrictions over the festive period and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he hoped to "ride out" the wave of Omicron without lockdown measures despite the NHS coming under significant strain.