close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
July 30, 2020

Heathrow calls for airport virus tests after £1 billion loss

Top Story

AFP
July 30, 2020

LONDON: Heathrow airport on Wednesday urged the government to create a coronavirus testing programme for travellers to replace quarantines, as it announced more than a billion pounds in losses in 2020.

The air hub, usually the busiest in Europe, said it had recorded a pre-tax loss of £1.1 billion ($1.4 billion, 1.2 billion euros) in the first six months of the year, as the pandemic decimates the aviation sector.

Revenues halved year-on-year while passenger numbers dropped 96 per cent in the second quarter, as air travel came to a virtual standstill due to Covid-19 lockdowns around the world, it said.

“Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the government—the UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast,” chief executive John Holland-Kaye said in a statement. “Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette.”

Heathrow has been among the critics of the government’s controversial weekend decision to quarantine all travellers arriving from Spain, following a recent spike in virus cases there.

It follows the introduction earlier this month of a so-called traffic light quarantine system, in which passengers from countries deemed high-risk are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.

Critics would like the UK to follow the lead of countries like France and Germany and screen passengers from such places.

“Testing offers a way to safely open up travel and trade to some of the UK’s biggest markets which currently remain closed,” Holland-Kaye added. “Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing, if the UK doesn’t act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the latest quarantine moves, warning “swift and decisive” action was needed as Europe sees a “second wave” of the virus.

Officials are thought to be weary of an airport testing system because they fear it will miss people who have contracted the virus but are yet to display symptoms. Heathrow—which is owned by a consortium led by Spanish construction giant Ferrovial—said it expects a gradual recovery in air travel but that passenger volumes would still be more than 60 per cent down on last year.