‘UK long way behind European rivals’ Heathrow boss slams travel tests as ‘unaffordable’

Kay Burley asks John Holland-Kaye about passenger locator forms

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Speaking to Sky News, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, welcomed the latest lifting of restrictions but said travel was “not out of the woods yet”. From today, all but seven countries are off the UK travel red list.

Holland-Kaye told Sky News: “It shows the Government is being cautious, but we’re down to only seven (countries) which is similar to what you’ll see in other European countries.

“It’s a reminder we’re not out of the woods yet, there is still a global pandemic around us but we are starting to get our lives back to normal.

“And there are so many people who’ve not been able to see friends and relatives for such a long time who are just desperate to be able to plan with confidence and today’s changes make it easier for people to plan ahead.

“Knowing that they won’t soon have to have the PCR test at all and that there will be many places they’ll be able to travel to without the need for quarantine.”

Despite the good news on travel rules, Holland-Kaye said more needed to be done to bring the UK in line with Europe.

Heathrow passenger numbers are still 60 percent down on pre-pandemic numbers and the airport is still not “out of the woods.”

Holland-Kaye said: “It shows there is still a long way to go. We’re a long way behind our European rivals who have opened up much more widely.

“There are no tests in European countries at all now so the UK is taking a cautious approach, still requiring testing for anyone coming into the country but this is a good step.”

Kay said: “There’s still a bit of confusion though, about what tests you need to have and what you need to do with your passenger locator form etc. I’ve just come back from a week in Portugal and it’s complicated.”

Holland-Kaye agreed saying: “It is and the passenger locator form is one of the new things that have been introduced that isn’t going to be taken away just yet.

“And it’s confusing for people, it’s a lot of filling out of forms and that’s something that we’ll want to see removed as possible.

“There’s no passenger locator form going into Europe but there is for the UK so the more that we can get rid of this friction that makes it just difficult to travel, confusing and stressful for a journey that is already quite stressful for many passengers, the sooner we can get back to travel as normal.”

Kay added that the UK’s testing regime is also extremely expensive for British tourists going on holiday.

Holland-Kaye said: “Testing is expensive and that puts a lot of people off travel and most of all, it makes it unaffordable for people on lower incomes and all people should be able to travel not just the wealthy.

“So the sooner we can get rid of the testing which is expensive and get rid of the passenger locator forms and get back to travel as it used to be which is what the Europeans have done, then we can all start to get back to our lives as normal.”

Grant Shapps has said PCR tests will be scrapped later in October but is yet to provide an exact date.

Holland-Kaye added that it would also be good to know a date for the opening of the United States for British tourists.

Kay joked: “I’m going to look at my Crystal ball and see that it’s going to be around Thanksgiving.”

The US is expected to open borders for double-vaccinated British tourists at some point in November.

It is expected that unvaccinated travellers will not be allowed entry to the United States for any reason.

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