Heathrow’s chief has said the UK government should significantly expand the list of countries that are on the ‘green list’ where passengers can travel freely, as it continues to take a hit from the pandemic.
“The government’s green list is very welcome, but they need to expand it massively in the next few weeks to include other low risk markets such as the United States, and remove the need for fully vaccinated passengers to take two expensive PCR tests,” said Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye.
The airport group also said fully vaccinated people should be allowed to travel without any restrictions.
The UK has introduced a ‘traffic light’ system for travel, where countries are divided into green, amber and red. From 17 May, Britons traveling to green list nations don’t need to quarantine when they return to the UK unless the COVID-19 test they take on or before day two after their return is positive.
In contrast, those who return from red list countries must pay £1,075 ($1,519) and quarantine in a hotel. Those coming back from amber nations must quarantine at home. It is also illegal to travel to these places for leisure.
So far, there are only 12 countries marked ‘green’, including Portugal, Iceland and Australia. The list will be reviewed and possibly more countries added next month.
Heathrow said the green list is “overly cautious” and the government “should help people plan ahead by publishing a list of countries expected to be on the green list for the summer holidays so that passengers are not faced with high prices for last minute bookings.”
Heathrow also announced it lost 6.2 million passengers in April, down 92.1%, compared to pre-pandemic 2019 figures.
It said fewer passenger flights are also hurting the UK’s supply chain and British exporters, with a 12% drop in the cargo that travelled through the airport, compared to April 2019.
“Reopening critical trading routes such as the United States will enable exporters to reconnect with key global networks and unlock billions of pounds worth of trade and exports,” it said in a statement.
Last month, EasyJet’s (EZJ.L) CEO urged the UK to put most of Europe on its ‘green list’.
The company conducted a study which it said found that travel to and from popular European destinations including Spain and Greece would increase COVID hospitalisations would not affect the UK’s case rate.
‘Green list’ countries
Israel and Jerusalem
Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
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