Gatwick CEO calls for PCR tests to be scrapped for vaccinated travellers

By Joanna Whitehead
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The CEO of Gatwick Airport has called for the testing of fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK to be scrapped, calling existing travel restrictions “out of step”.

Stewart Wingate cited new figures released from Airports Council International (ACI) Europe which reveal that travel bookings in the UK are around 30 per cent of pre-Covid levels, compared with around 60 per cent in Europe.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

The boss of the UK’s second largest airport added that passenger confidence in the UK had been “shattered” and that the travel industry desperately needed a lifeline “so that we can start to recover properly from the most difficult period in our history.”

At present, passengers flying into the UK from a green-list country must provide proof of a negative Covid test within two days of arrival, even if they have been double jabbed.

Those arriving from amber countries who have not been vaccinated must pay for tests on days two and eight, in addition to self-isolating for 10 days upon entry to the UK.

Wingate’s comments come just days after Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary described the UK’s Covid travel restrictions as “mindless stupidity”.

Speaking to The Independent, he said: “The traffic light system needs to be scrapped.

“You need to have a very simple system: if you’re double vaccinated, no restrictions. If you’re not double vaccinated, get a PCR test.”

“This monstrously stupid system, that requires passengers from Europe to be double vaccinated and get a PCR test, doesn’t help deal with the Covid problem.

“We need to get on with a return to normality.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) told The Independent: “Decisions on red, amber or green list assignment and associated border measures are taken by ministers, who take into account the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s public health risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.”


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