Air­ports must roll out tests, says Heathrow boss af­ter record loss

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Simon Foy Oliver Gill By and

HEATHROW has sunk to a record hal­fyear loss af­ter the pan­demic sent pas­sen­ger num­bers plung­ing at Bri­tain’s big­gest air­port.

The firm re­ported a £1.1bn pre-tax loss for the six months to June af­ter pas­sen­ger num­bers tum­bled 96pc in the sec­ond quar­ter as aviation ground to an al­most to­tal halt.

The dire fig­ures prompted chief ex­ec­u­tive John Hol­land-Kaye to push for a virus test­ing regime at air­ports that could cut the time of the 14-day quar­an­tine and lift de­mand for air travel.

He said: “To­day’s re­sults should serve as a clar­ion call for the Gov­ern­ment – the UK needs a pas­sen­ger test- ing regime and fast. With­out it, Bri­tain is just play­ing a game of quar­an­tine roulette.”

Mr Hol­land-Kaye drew com­par­isons with Euro­pean coun­tries that are al­ready con­duct­ing Covid-19 tests at air­ports, which he said could be rolled out in the UK within two weeks.

He said: “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.”

The trans­port boss sug­gested that ar­rivals to the UK could be tested at an air­port, and then get a sec­ond test at a health fa­cil­ity five to eight days later to re­duce the time spent in quar­an­tine.

Al­ready reel­ing from a virus-in­duced slump in de­mand, air­lines have warned that the two-week pe­riod of self-iso­la­tion for ar­rivals from Spain in­tro­duced over the week­end will fur­ther ham­mer the be­lea­guered in­dus­try.

Last month, Mr Hol­land-Kaye warned the new re­stric­tions could lead to as many as 25,000 Heathrow work­ers los­ing their jobs, mak­ing Heathrow air­port the lead­ing firm in the UK for an­nounced job cuts.

Heathrow also said the open­ing of its con­tentious third run­way will be de­layed by at least two years due to the Covid cri­sis and an ap­peals process.

Con­struc­tion was ex­pected to com­plete be­tween 2028 and 2029, but the project was al­ready fac­ing de­lays af­ter the Court of Ap­peal ruled in Fe­bru­ary that the Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to let it go ahead was un­law­ful on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds.

Mean­while the boss of Wizz Air warned travel quarantine­s will leave air­lines rid­ing a “roller­coaster” over the sum­mer as mar­kets are opened and closed in re­sponse to the pan­demic.

Speak­ing as Wizz posted a €107m (£97m) pre-tax loss for the three months to June, com­pared with a €76m profit last year, József Váradi added his voice to crit­i­cism of the Gov­ern­ment’s rein­tro­duc­tion of quar­an­tine for ar­rivals from Spain.

“I don’t think quar­an­tine is a good idea un­der any cir­cum­stances,” he said.

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