Holidaymakers 'ripped off' by Covid travel testing, former BA chief tells LBC

18 January 2022, 09:20

By Emma Soteriou

Holidaymakers have been "ripped off" by Covid travel testing, the former chief of British Airways told LBC this morning.

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Willie Walsh said that the testing regime put in place for holidaymakers was "a disgrace".

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, he said he felt the Government had not delivered on promises, with consumers suffering the brunt of their mistakes.

"I think [the Government has] been very poor," Mr Walsh said. "No specific aid for the airline industry despite the transport minister promising it on several occasions.

"I think the restrictions put in place were unnecessary, the cost of PCRs and the testing regime was a disgrace and I think we need to look into what was going on behind the scenes there because people were definitely being ripped off.

"I think consumers have suffered really badly as a result of poor handling by the British Government."

He went on to say: "You have to look at how all of these PCR companies appeared almost overnight, the cost that they were charging, the way the Government website was listing PCR tests that weren't available and people were suffering way in excess of the costs by doing the testing.

"I think it's definitely one of the issues that does need to be examined once we look back at how the pandemic was handled by the Government."

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Looking forward, Mr Walsh said things looked "promising" for 2022, amid reports that all travel restrictions will be lifted in time for the next school half term in February.

"I think there is reason to be optimistic," he said.

"The signs are much more positive this week than they have been for some and we're encouraged by developments from several Governments around the world.

"I genuinely believe there's a real prospect for a proper holiday period for people and boy do they deserve it."

When asked whether the travel industry had tried their best to remain safe throughout the pandemic, Mr Walsh said: "We've tried everything - I've been flying quite a lot - I just added up that I did 39 PCRs to enable me to travel last year."

He added: "People are happy, people want to travel and I think people can rest assured that they will be safe when flying."

Covid testing for fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK is expected to be scrapped in time for the February break, according to the Sunday Times.

The paper reported that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is understood to be in favour of ending regime in the lead up to the holidays, in a move that will save families hundreds of pounds.

An announcement on the change is expected to come on January 26, in line with the end of Plan B restrictions.