Heathrow Airport calls for passenger testing regime

29 Juillet, 2020, 17:08 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

London Heathrow Airport's boss has brutally claimed that the United Kingdom government's "Global Britain" policy will be nothing but empty rhetoric if it doesn't implement Covid-19 testing at airports, after seeing passenger numbers plunge.

The CEO of Europe's busiest airport John Holland-Kaye warned that the United Kingdom would be losing a game of global "quarantine roulette" if the government fails to take action.

The travel industry has been plagued by fears of a second wave of shutdowns after Britain imposed a quarantine on travellers from Spain just as the industry has begun to re-open.

"Today's results should serve as a clarion call for the Government - the United Kingdom needs a passenger testing regime and fast".

"Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing, if the United Kingdom doesn't act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan", John Holland-Kaye said.

Holland-Kaye believes that if the United Kingdom government doesn't quickly introduce a Covid-19 testing regime, Britain would face "playing a game of quarantine roulette".

Mr Holland-Kaye said the cost of having a coronavirus test at the airport would be about £150 per person and the passenger would be expected to pay.

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"So it's not cheap, but equally for people who are anxious about being able to go back to work or get the kids into school, there will be people who are prepared to pay that to avoid the extra period of quarantine", he said.

In other developments, a £4.3 million review has been launched into why people from black and Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are more likely to die from Covid-19, and Downing Street has signed a new deal for 60 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

Responding to the criticism from Heathrow, UK culture minister Oliver Dowden said there was no easy solution, stating that there is no "silver bullet" on testing which could allow quarantine-free travel.

"It can incubate over a period of time so there's not a silver bullet of just testing immediately at the border", he added.

Heathrow, along with airlines and the entire world tourism industry, is hurting.

Passenger numbers fell 96% in the second quarter while cargo volumes fell over 30%.

However, Heathrow said its finances remained robust, stating it had enough cash to last until at least June 2021 with no revenue.

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