The closure of transatlantic air links is costing the UK economy at least £23 million a day, Heathrow warned today.
The London hub’s passenger numbers are still nearly 90% down on pre-pandemic 2019 passenger numbers, and much lower than EU rivals.
Passenger traffic from Heathrow to the US is down by around 80%.
However, in the EU, which has reopened unilaterally with the US, has seen traffic recover to only around 40% down.
The UK’s long-held competitive advantage on transatlantic trade is at risk if borders remain closed, the airport warned while issuing June passenger figures.
Heathrow said: “European countries that have supported their aviation sectors throughout the pandemic are seeing the fastest growth as they emerge from the pandemic.
“Both Schiphol and Frankfurt have surpassed their 2019 cargo volumes, growing by 14% and 9% respectively compared to 2019, whereas cargo tonnage at Heathrow, the UK’s biggest port is still down 16%. Almost all air cargo is carried in the hold of passenger planes, and UK travel restrictions are limiting trade compared to our EU rivals.”
“Getting Britain trading again with the rest of the world is critical to the government’s plans for a Global Britain post-Brexit.
“Heathrow alone has the potential to facilitate a £204 billion trade bonanza benefiting British businesses in every corner of the country, creating opportunities for the entire aviation sector and strengthening the UK’s trade network – but only if ministers move to reopen trade as soon as possible.
“The announcement that double-vaccinated UK residents will no longer be required to quarantine when returning from amber list countries from the 19th July is a great step forward.
“However, to kick-start Britain’s economic recovery, the government must reopen travel to fully vaccinated people from more countries, particularly our key trading partners like the US.
“British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow are working together to demonstrate that 100% vaccination status can be carried out at check in, and there is no reason why government should not approve this for passengers from the US and EU from the 31st of July.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “While it’s fantastic news that some double-vaccinated passengers will no longer need to quarantine from amber countries, ministers need to extend this policy to US and EU nationals if they want to kickstart the economic country.
“These changes will be critical for exporters who are losing out to EU rivals and families who have been separated from loved ones. We have all the tools to safely restart international travel, and now is the time for Global Britain to take off.”