London Heathrow Airport Chief Urges UK Gov't to Open Up Borders to Fully Vaccinated
© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLETravellers pass a sign for a COVID-19 test centre at Heathrow Airport, London, Britain, February 13, 2021.
© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLE
LONDON (Sputnik) – Heathrow Airport Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye urged the UK government on Monday to allow fully vaccinated people to travel in and out of the country, warning that the country's largest airport was falling behind European rivals because of the continuing restrictions on international travel.
"Where is the vaccine dividend? That's what we should be seeing in this country, to show that if you've been double vaccinated and you've got high level of protection in your country you should be able to travel with confidence," Holland-Kaye told Times Radio.
"The US is our most important trading partner. It's the only country with which we have a balance of trade surplus and yet we're cut off from them, and we're seeing European countries surging ahead, taking advantage of trade and tourism that the UK can benefit from," he added.
The company operating Heathrow reported losses of 2.9 billion pounds ($4 billion) over the past six months as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, still in force in the United Kingdom, despite official data showing that 70% of the UK adult population have been double vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"Britain is losing out on tourism income and trade with key economic partners like the EU and US because Ministers continue to restrict travel for passengers fully vaccinated outside the UK," the airport said in a statement.
Heathrow's authorities also reported that fewer than 4 million travelers passed through the airport in the first six months of this year, a level that would have taken just 18 days to reach in 2019.
Only a handful of countries were included in the green list of countries where UK citizens and residents are allowed to travel without having to self-isolate on their return.
People visiting countries on the amber list do not have to self-isolate in return if they are fully vaccinated, but they will still have to pay for at least two costly COVID-19 tests.
Traveling to red-listed destination is not recommended as travelers will have to quarantine for 10 days at their own expense in a hotel designated by the government.