Manchester airport bosses call for end to expensive PCR tests and "out of step" travel restrictions

Manchester Airport bosses are calling for an end to expensive PCR tests in an attempt to save the travel industry.

Karen Smart, the airport's managing director says the UK’s traffic light system and travel restrictions mean the country’s aviation sector is recovering at just half the rate of the rest of Europe.

Passenger figures for July were 85.9% down on July 2019.

Travel restrictions are "out of step" with the rest of Europe, bosses say. Credit: PA

The airport said that since the review of the traffic light system on 4th August – which saw more countries added to the green and amber lists – volumes have picked up slightly but remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

With just three weeks of the peak summer season remaining, Karen Smart says the requirement for passengers to pay for PCR tests, even when fully vaccinated and returning from low-risk destinations, was “out of step” with the rest of Europe and holding back the recovery of UK airports and airlines.

The UK’s blanket requirement for PCR testing and pre-departure testing differs dramatically to the approach taken by most European countries, which are allowing fully vaccinated passengers to travel between low-risk destinations without having to take any tests.

The UK’s requirement for PCR testing and pre-departure testing differs dramatically to the approach taken by most European countries. Credit: PA

Karen Smart said the airport will not see a "proper sustained recovery" until the UK overhauls its "costly and restrictive" travel regime, which is "out of step" with the rest of Europe. 

She went on: “UK passengers continue to be subjected to onerous and expensive PCR testing on the basis they will be sequenced to protect the UK from variants of concern, but it is clear this is not happening.

“Passengers - especially those who are fully vaccinated - will be right to question why they are forced to pay the extra cost for tests which are not being used in the way we were told they would be.

"We need a simple and sustainable system for travel, which people can understand and that is proportionate to the public health position here in the UK. The Government must act urgently to review the system and re-evaluate the need for expensive PCR tests."