Britain’s Heathrow Airport said that passenger numbers jumped in July as the government eased travel restrictions and a recovery was underway.
The airport, however, warned that overall numbers were still down 80% compared to pre-pandemic levels as many restrictions remain in place.
Heathrow said that in July over 1.5 million travellers passed through the airport, making it the busiest month since March 2020, just before COVID-19 lockdowns began in Europe and travel was essentially stopped.
The airport, the busiest in Britain, and before COVID-19 the busiest in Europe, said that the government needed to do more to help travel return to even close to 2019 levels.
Britain’s Heathrow Airport
Along with other airlines like British Airways, Heathrow have criticised Britain for not easing travel restrictions quickly enough despite its fast vaccine roll-out, and for complicated rules which continue to include expensive coronavirus tests.
Airlines want a reduction to the cost of testing and the addition of more countries added to the list of low risk countries.
The airport also called on Britain to reach an agreement with the United States to allow Britons to travel to the U.S.
Last month, the government allowed fully vaccinated Britons to travel to medium risk countries without needing to quarantine on return. The decision cased passenger numbers to increase by 74% compared to July last year.
Britain has since early August opened its borders to fully-vaccinated people from the U.S. and European Union.
Heathrow also said that U.S. carrier JetBlue was due to start flying between London and New York later this week, in a sign of growing confidence in travel.
Heathrow’s chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “Finally, some blue skies are on the horizon, as travel and trade routes slowly reopen.
“The job though is far from complete. Government must now capitalise on the vaccine dividend and seize the opportunity to replace expensive PCR tests with more affordable lateral flow tests.
“This will ensure travel remains attainable for hardworking Brits, desperate for well-earned getaways and keen to reunite with loved ones before the summer travel window closes.”