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Stansted Airport boss raps Government for Covid test costs

Government simplification of Covid-19 rules for international travel has failed to satisfy Stansted Airport's boss.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG (Manchester Airports Group), which also operates Manchester and East Midlands airports, said the continued cost of testing was still an obstacle to recovery for the aviation industry.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the end of the current red, amber and green traffic light system. It will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories from Monday October 4 at 4am.

Grant Shapps (51414804)
Grant Shapps (51414804)

On the same day, testing requirements will be reduced for eligible fully-vaccinated passengers, who will no longer need to take a pre-departure test when travelling to England.

From the end of October, eligible fully-vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their test two days after arrival with a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Stansted Airport terminal (51414854)
Stansted Airport terminal (51414854)

Mr Shapps said: "The changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.

"Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy, and with more than eight in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape."

Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Oman and the Maldives moved off the red list from 4am on Wednesday (Sept 22).

Mr Cornish said: "The simplification of the UK's international travel system, including doing away with pre-departure tests and switching to lateral flow on arrival, will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel abroad.

Charlie Cornish (51414780)
Charlie Cornish (51414780)

"For too long, the recovery of UK aviation has lagged behind the rest of Europe. The changes will help to close that gap by encouraging more people to book foreign travel.

"But for as long as vaccinated travellers have to pay for tests, the recovery of one of the UK's major industries will be held back. Government must now find a way to give people back the freedom to travel without the barrier of testing."

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