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How pandemic reduced London's Heathrow Airport activities

EUROPE
By Winfrey Owino | September 19th 2021

Passengers in the international arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport on July 29, 2021. [Courtesy]

Details of how London’s major international airport, Heathrow Airport, has dropped from the busiest airport in 2019 to tenth in 2021 have emerged.

Travel experts say the drop was as a result of Britain’s strict Covid-19 testing requirements for visitors from abroad and Brits wishing to travel out of the country which led to the poor performance of the UK travel industry, causing it to fall behind European rivals and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

According to Britain's Travel Association CEO Mark Tanzer on Tuesday, September 14, more than two-thirds of its members were planning further layoffs once government support for wages comes to an end later this month.

"The government needs to wake up to the damage its policies are doing to the UK travel industry and the impact they will have on the wider economic recovery," Tanzer said in a statement.

"A diminished holiday industry is a diminished aviation industry with fewer routes and fewer flights. That's not how you achieve a global Britain," he added.

CNN reports that despite one of the most successful vaccine rollouts in the world, the UK government has kept in place a range of travel requirements that are costly for the travellers. As a result, they keep off travelling.

“Travelers are required to take costly coronavirus tests before departure and upon return to England, even if they are fully vaccinated and travelling from countries deemed as low risk for coronavirus by the government. Anyone arriving from a high-risk country is required to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at their own expense,” CNN reports.

"The government's overly cautious travel requirements have led to the UK trailing behind its European competitors," the travel Association boss added.

Before the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020, Heathrow Airport was ranked as Europe's busiest airport, welcoming a record 80.9 million passengers in 2019.

It now ranks behind major rivals including Amsterdam's Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Frankfurt International, as well as smaller airports in Turkey and Russia.

Passenger numbers were down 71% in August versus the same month in 2019, and cargo volumes were 14% weaker. Some EU competitors reached pre-pandemic cargo volumes at the end of 2020, according to Heathrow Airport, CNN reports.

Data from Airports Council International Europe shows that Heathrow welcomed fewer than 3.9 million passengers in the first half of this year, a 90% reduction in 2019.

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