UK losing vaccine advantage as European aviation sector recovers twice as fast

UK losing vaccine advantage as European aviation sector recovers twice as fast

New data shows that the UK’s continued tough travel restrictions have seen the aviation sector across Europe recover twice as quickly as in the UK – with bookings now at around 60% of pre-covid levels, compared to 30% in the UK – as Europe capitalises on the progress of its vaccine rollout programmes.

Gatwick Airport has released the figures from ACI Europe today alongside a call for the UK to throw a lifeline to the UK aviation sector by removing the requirement for testing altogether for travellers who have been double vaccinated. 

This would reflect the relaxation of travel restrictions across much of Europe – where double vaccinated passengers are largely free to travel – and be in line with the UK Government’s own position that double vaccinated travellers present a much-reduced public health risk.

With proof, double vaccinated travellers can currently enter the majority of European countries without needing to be tested, including in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Germany, among others.

Gatwick proposes that passengers who are not double vaccinated should have to take a lateral flow test and then, if that is positive, take a PCR test, while those coming from red countries should have to quarantine as the risk profile demands, as outlined below:

 Green Amber Red
 Double vaccinated (from any country) No pre or post-arrival tests No pre or post-arrival tests Quarantine
 Not double vaccinated No pre or post-arrival tests Day two lateral flow test Quarantine

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said: “With vaccination rates across Europe comparable, if not better, than the UK’s, the time has come for testing to be removed altogether for travellers who have been double jabbed.  Other countries have done this and their aviation sectors are recovering much faster with bookings in Europe recovering twice as fast as in the UK.

“Our continued travel restrictions are out of step with much of Europe and continue to have a real impact on jobs and livelihoods, business and growth opportunities while also keeping friends and family apart. Passenger confidence in the UK has been shattered and the UK travel industry urgently needs throwing a lifeline so that we can start to recover properly from the most difficult period in our history.” 

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