Holland-Kaye: new restrictions are “essentially a border closure”

Introducing further measures has damaged the airport’s passenger numbers and reduced cargo flights

The boss of the UK’s largest airport has called on the government to come up with a recovery plan for the safe restart of international travel, following the introduction of additional restrictions deterring people from travel.

In January, passenger numbers at the facility were down by 89% due to the national lockdown, travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine and compulsory testing.

Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport 

John Holland-Kaye says the cost of quarantine hotels and testing measures as well as other protocols put in place by the government mean that borders are almost effectively closed. Heathrow have stated that they are working closely with the government to try and ensure these methods are viable.

“We support the government in measures required to protect public health,” says Holland-Kaye. “But these additional requirements are essentially a border closure. That will inevitably delay the country’s recovery and hurt the UK’s supply chains. We need to see the flight plan for the safe restart of international travel as part of the prime minister’s roadmap on February 22.

“We also need to preserve our vital aviation infrastructure to support economic recovery when it comes and make global Britain a reality. That means the Chancellor must use next month’s budget to deliver the help that the industry needs with 100% business rates relief and an extension of the furlough scheme.”

A reduction in long-haul passenger flights resulted in cargo volume at the hub reducing by 21% in January. This indicates the extent of damage the travel restrictions are doing to the exports and supply chains.

It has been proposed that the UK government need to set out a recovery plan that will ensure borders are opened safely.

The industry also urges that specific support should be provided to ensure its survival, including full business rates relief and a further extension of the furlough scheme.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have agreed to alter Heathrow’s regulatory settlement to allow the airport to continue delivering its services for its consumers. The previous agreement did not account for a crisis of this scale, therefore adjusting it would increase long-term investment and lower prices for customers.