By Edward Thicknesse | cityam.com
Gatwick Airport this morning called on the government to simplify its existing travel rules as it nursed a £244.6m loss for the first half of 2021.
Just 569,000 people used the Crawley airport in the first six months of the year, despite the gradual easing of travel restrictions.
With 75 per cent of British adults now fully vaccinated against coronavirus, the airport warned that the country was at risk of wasting the benefits of its inoculation campaign.
It pointed to countries like France and Germany, whose travel bookings are approaching 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, compared to the UK, which sees bookings lagging around 16 per cent.
Instead of the current system, Gatwick said that there should be no test requirements for travellers from “green” countries, or for double vaccinated travellers from “amber” destinations.
For non-vaccinated people coming from an “amber” country, a single lateral flow test should be used.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “In the UK we are all emerging to enjoy more freedoms due to our world class vaccination programme, however we are in danger of squandering the advantage that vaccination programme has afforded us for international travel.
“Our government needs to act now and remove unnecessary and costly PCR testing requirements for passengers, particularly for those double vaccinated.
“UK travel recovery should not be allowed to lag behind the US and Europe. Passengers need the travel rules simplified so they can choose to travel more freely and enjoy much needed breaks and reunions with family and friends which are currently much more attainable for those in Europe and the US.”
Gatwick added that it had now cancelled a total of £570m of planned investment for 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Operating costs have been cut by 34.4 per cent, while staff costs are £31.3m lower due to last year’s restructuring.
The airport has £779m of liquidity, including £624m of cash, which it said would be sufficient to meet operating cashflows, planned investment levels and interest payments for at least the next 12 months.