Travel agencies are calling for the removal of COVID testing restrictions, saying this would have no real impact on the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.
The call from the commercial organization Airlines UK and Manchester Airports Group (MAG) comes after recent figures showing one in 25 people in England had COVID-19 just before Christmas.
It comes on the day the government is set to review coronavirus travel restrictions.
Currently, fully vaccinated travelers in the UK must take a pre-departure test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a post-arrival test.
Those who are not fully vaccinated should self-isolate for 10 days after arrival.
Last month the government deleted the 11 countries on its travel “red list”, partly reversing the tightening of restrictions to contain the spread of Omicron from abroad.
Airlines UK said at the time that the costly tests and isolation measures imposed on travelers should also be removed for the same reason and have now reiterated the call.
The trade body and MAG – which operates airports in Manchester, London Stanstead and East Midlands – cited research they commissioned from consulting firm Oxera and analytics firm Edge Health to make the final call.
They said research has shown that removing all testing requirements on international travel this month would not impact the spread of Omicron in the UK.
He also found that the introduction of the pre-departure and day two PCR test in late November and early December respectively had little impact on the spread of Omicron in the UK, compared to a scenario where the The policy of a single second day antigen test remained the same.
The companies said tighter travel restrictions hurt the industry last month, with MAG estimating a 30% impact on its recovery in passenger numbers.
They said separate research commissioned by Oxera at the time showed that further testing in response to Omicron reduced the UK aviation sector’s contribution to the economy by £ 60million per week.
MAG Managing Director Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK Managing Director Tim Alderslade said in a joint statement that the Health Secretary has already acknowledged that the value of any form of restriction has been significantly reduced once ‘Omicron has become dominant.
“This latest research from Oxera and Edge Health clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in their entirety without affecting overall UK case rates and hospitalizations,” said they stated.
“This should give the UK government the confidence to move forward with the immediate removal of these emergency restrictions, giving people the freedom to travel abroad to see loved ones, explore new places and generate income. new business opportunities.
“Travel restrictions come at a huge cost to the travel industry and to the UK economy as a whole, putting jobs at risk and slowing the recovery of one of our most important sectors.
“It is therefore vital that they do not stay in place a day longer than necessary.”
Fears over the Omicron variant and the tighter restrictions imposed before Christmas have already been shown to have impacted demand for Tui and Ryanair.
But hope that conditions will ease – in light of suggestions that Omicron will cause less severe disease than other variants – have created a more optimistic outlook for the aviation industry in recent days.
Shares in the owner of British Airways, International Airlines Group (IAG) and other airlines strongly increased Tuesday, helping London stock indices enjoy a strong rebound on the first day of trading in the New Year.