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Travel Recovery Looking at ‘Blue Skies’ – Heathrow Airport

Travel Recovery Looking at ‘Blue Skies’ – Heathrow Airport

July saw a 74 per cent upsurge in passenger numbers going through Heathrow compared to the same time last year – a clear indication that consumer confidence is on the rise.

Heathrow said that over 1.5 million passengers passed through the airport last month, marking the highest monthly passenger numbers since March 2020.

The relaxation in travel rules has provided a “much-needed boost to the UK travel industry, and enabled people across Britain to look forward to a more normal summer reuniting with family and friends abroad.”

North American passenger numbers grew by nearly 230 per cent YoY, and New York JFK reclaimed the top spot as Heathrow’s most popular route.

Today Heathrow is set to further increase its transatlantic offering as it welcomes American carrier jetBlue.

A Long Way to Go

Despite signs of recovery, passenger numbers are still down over 80 per cent on pre-pandemic July 2019, as barriers to travel remain.

Heathrow’s management team has criticised the British government for not following through on commitments to reduce testing costs, and points out that the cost of testing in the UK remains prohibitive for many.

Alongside the travel industry, it has called for VAT on testing to be scrapped along with the introduction of cheaper lateral flow for low-risk destinations.

Failure to do so, it says, will risk turning travel into the preserve for the wealthy.

Heathrow Chief Operating Officer, Emma Gilthorpe said: “Finally, some blue skies are on the horizon, as travel and trade routes slowly reopen.

“The job though is far from complete. Government must now capitalise on the vaccine dividend and seize the opportunity to replace expensive PCR tests with more affordable lateral flow tests.

“This will ensure travel remains attainable for hardworking Brits, desperate for well-earned getaways and keen to reunite with loved ones before the summer travel window closes.”

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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