Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Published on Thursday, October 14, 2021

IATA calls for simplified testing to spur UK airline recovery

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for a simpler Covid-19 testing regime, with affordable, competitive airport costs, to help UK airlines speed up the recovery.

Speaking at the UK Aviation Club, IATA Director General Willie Walsh emphasised the importance of face-to-face meetings and the desire of travellers to get flying again.

Still, he warned that by persisting with expensive PCR testing, the UK had failed to capitalise on its fast rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations, and has slipped behind its main EU partners.

"In terms of day-to-day life, the UK is far more pragmatic in managing Covid-19 than many other states. But its approach to travel continues to focus on restrictions which cannot be justified based on risk," Walsh said.

"Over the period from February to August, the PCR test positivity rate of arriving passengers to the UK was 1%. And the positivity rate from testing the general population was 7%. So we can confidently say that travel is not increasing the UK's Covid-19 risk," added Walsh.

Walsh applauded recent moves to cut the number of 'red list' countries and proposing an end to PCR tests for vaccinated passengers, but problems remain, such as the new post-arrival antigen test and a reliance on 'a closed shop of private testing providers.'

Walsh also criticised Heathrow's fee policy.

"It's time for Heathrow's shareholders to step up. They have enjoyed steady returns for years. Instead of expecting the travelling public to be covering excessive returns, it's time for them to invest. All eyes will be on the CAA to ensure they are doing their job in protecting the consumer by pushing back on the airport's outrageous behaviour," said Walsh.

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