Axe Covid tests for double-jabbed passengers to end airport delays, bosses demand

By Brett Gibbons

Bosses have called for the end of Covid testing for double jabbed travellers in an attempt to ease the chronic queues at some of the nation's airports.

Weary holidaymakers have been left stranded in long queues for hours in recent days with 'horrific' delays to get through Heathrow Airport.

In Manchester one elderly passenger is said to have fainted as queues piled up with many forced to wait for hours, while there have also been problems at Luton.

Passenger Anastasia Tolmacova raged: "Massive queues at London Luton airport past midnight. Any social distancing is virtually impossible. Why do we have to pay extra for overpriced Covid tests when the situation at the border is so poorly managed?"

Big queues at Manchester Airport at border control (Ian McCarter)

Now Gatwick Airport chiefs have called on the UK Government to removing the testing requirement for double jabbed travellers, while retaining quarantine for those flying in to the country from red list zone.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said: "With vaccination rates across Europe comparable, if not better, than the UK's, the time has come for testing to be removed altogether for travellers who have been double jabbed.

"Other countries have done this and their aviation sectors are recovering much faster with bookings in Europe recovering twice as fast as in the UK. Our continued travel restrictions are out of step with much of Europe and continue to have a real impact on jobs and livelihoods, business and growth opportunities while also keeping friends and family apart.

"Passenger confidence in the UK has been shattered and the UK travel industry urgently needs thrown a lifeline so that we can start to recover properly from the most difficult period in our history."

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: "We are aware that queues at the border this afternoon were longer than usual.

"Immigration checks are the responsibility of UK Border Force and we will review events with them to understand how these circumstances arose, and to ensure that passengers enjoy the best possible experience going forward."

A Home Office spokesperson responded: “Throughout the pandemic we have been clear that queue times may be longer as we ensure all passengers are compliant with the health measures put in place to keep the UK public safe. However, the very long wait times we saw at Heathrow are unacceptable.

“This is the busiest weekend of the year for returning passengers, with particularly high numbers of families with children under the age of 12 who cannot use e-gates.

“Border Force is rapidly reviewing its rosters and capacity and flexibly deploying our staff across the airport to improve waiting times. We are working very closely with Heathrow Airport and its airlines and we are all committed to making sure all passengers can have a safe and hassle-free journey.”

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