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Stansted Airport boss urges Government to remove travel testing rules

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Stansted Airport's boss has called on the Government to kickstart recovery of the aviation sector by ditching "costly and damaging restrictions".

Manchester Airports Group's chief executive Charlie Cornish said remaining travel testing requirements should be removed.

The call follows the deletion of the last 11 countries from the quarantine red list from 4am on Wednesday (December 15).

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish (53772113)
MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish (53772113)

Mr Cornish said: "Our passenger performance in November showed how consumer confidence grew strongly as soon as restrictions on international travel were lifted.

"Our industry supported the reintroduction of testing requirements, which have done their part in slowing the arrival of the Omicron variant.

"However, now there is widespread domestic transmission of the variant across the UK, there can no longer be any justification for maintaining these costly and damaging restrictions.

In November, Stansted had recovered to 63% of its 2019 passenger numbers. Pic: Vikki Lince
In November, Stansted had recovered to 63% of its 2019 passenger numbers. Pic: Vikki Lince

"The news that all countries will be removed from the red list is positive recognition that they serve little purpose once the variant is circulating widely, but the same is true for the testing requirements which remain.

"Aviation has been hit harder by Covid measures than any other part of the economy. The latest testing requirements are already undermining the strong recovery we were starting to see.

"We need the Government to act swiftly to minimise the disruption to travel and reduce the costs for families travelling over Christmas, as well as supporting the recovery of our critically-important sector."

Currently, all international arriving passengers must take both a pre-departure test and a day 2 PCR test.

Covid-19 test centre (53772711)
Covid-19 test centre (53772711)

Before the measures were ramped up, passenger numbers across MAG's airports at Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands across November had climbed to an average of 58% of 2019 levels. During the final week of the month, they peaked at 61% of 2019 levels, compared with 44% in the latest week.

MAG said that reimposition of the pre-departure and day 2 testing requirements had caused passenger numbers to fall by more than a quarter in the two weeks since then.

According to CAA data, in November, MAG airports were recovering the fastest among major UK airports, with Stansted the strongest by serving 63% of 2019 passenger numbers.

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