The travel industry calls on ministers to remove all remaining Covid testing requirements for international travelers, arguing that they are hurting the travel industry and will not affect the spread of the Omicron variant.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and the Airlines UK trade body said in a joint statement that the research they had commissioned into travel restrictions supported the position that removing travel testing requirements would not affect not the overall rates of cases and hospitalizations in the UK.
Both organizations said research has shown national rather than international restrictions will be the only way to reduce the spread of Omicron in the country.
Ministers introduced additional testing requirements in late November and early December over fears over the spread of the newly identified variant.
All passengers arriving in the UK must take a pre-departure Covid test within two days of departure, although slightly different deadlines apply in the four countries. Additionally, travelers are required to take a PCR test within the first two days of arrival.
MAG, the UK’s largest airport group, which operates Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, sent its research to ministers ahead of a government review of international travel rules on Wednesday and amid reports according to which pre-departure testing requirements are set to be dropped from the exam.
MAG Managing Director Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK Managing Director Tim Alderslade have urged the UK government to immediately remove what they called “emergency restrictions”.
They said: ‘Travel restrictions come at a huge cost to the travel industry and to the UK economy as a whole, putting jobs at risk and slowing the recovery of one of our most important sectors. It is therefore vital that they do not stay in place a day longer than necessary.
MAG said the number of passengers at its airports fell by more than 30% in early December after new testing requirements were introduced.
MAG’s chief of staff, Tim Hawkins, said the group understood that travel restrictions would be removed “if they cease to play a useful role in limiting the spread of the virus.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “Between October and November, passengers reacted very positively to the lifting of travel restrictions and we have seen a good level of recovery. But new measures in late November and December pushed that back by about a third. “