Covid testing for double-jabbed should be abandoned amid claims that passengers are paying double their air fare on tests.
Former transport secretary Lord McLoughlin, speaking for the first time as chairman of industry body Airlines UK, said all other major EU nations have abandoned PCR tests for double jabbed holidaymakers, leading to a revival in air travel.
However, the UK requires all holidaymakers to pay for a PCR test on or before day two after their arrival in the UK, irrespective of vaccination status or Covid risk in the country from which they are travelling.
For a British traveller to Spain it means an extra £105 per person on PCR tests on their return to the UK, which was more than double the average ticket price of £95 for a couple.
The UK is bottom of a European league table, with airline ticket sales for July and August at just 14.3% of 2019 levels.
By contrast, Greece stood at 85.7%, Spain at 50.5%, Portugal at 48.8%, France at 36.6%, Italy at 36% and Germany at 26.7%.
Lord McLoughlin told The Telegraph: “The government needs to look at changing the system to allow double vaccinated people to travel without these test restrictions.
“I’d like to know why they don’t think it is a runner when there is going to be a vaccine passport system in the UK later on this year.
“It’s what most of the rest of Europe is doing. What it does is send out a message that somehow we’ve got bigger problems than other countries, that we are more vulnerable than others. So that’s what I think it does negatively.”
He feared it could also deter business and damage the government’s ‘global Britain’ agenda.
“If we’re going to be a global player and we want to be of global importance, then international travel and business travel is incredibly important,” said Lord McLoughlin.
“One of the biggest uses of Heathrow is exports as well as people. It’s also a hub market as well for goods. So all of that is all part of us being in a global position. If we don’t compete, we lose business and we lose trade. We don’t want to be seen as the odd man out.”
His intervention comes as the government reviews the traffic light system for international travel.