Stansted boss: Slow travel easing could 'squander' vaccine benefits

A sign on chrome metal: Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

The benefits of Britain's vaccination programme could be "squandered" without faster international travel restrictions easing, Stansted Airport's boss has warned.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, has called on the government to remove compulsory Covid-19 testing for fully vaccinated travellers.

He is one of several industry leaders - including airline bosses - who have called for the government to change its 'red, amber and green' list system for Covid-safe international travel.

The lists were last updated on Thursday (August 26), with seven new 'green' destinations including Switzerland and Canada.

But passengers arriving into England from any of the 43 green-list territories must take coronavirus tests both before and after travel.

A sign reads "Testing Centre" with an arrow straight on

Stansted Airport now houses a private Covid-19 test centre for international flyers - Credit: Archant

Mr Cornish said the update was "positive" for last-minute summer travellers but that recovery is still too slow.

Mr Cornish said: "Europe’s stronger recovery has been driven by the removal of testing requirements on vaccinated travellers.

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"Unless the UK also removes the need for people with full immunity to take these tests, we will continue to squander the advantage our world-leading vaccination programme was supposed to deliver."

Mr Cornish called on the government to "overhaul" the traffic light system to enable the "best possible winter season". boss Steve Heapy echoed Mr Cornish's concerns.

Mr Heapy said: "We are pleased to be adding more flights and holidays to such fantastic destinations but we continue to be left frustrated that so many more destinations remain off the Green List for no discernible reason.

"We urge the government to take the handbrake off international travel and adopt the same approach as it has to so many other areas of everyday life.

"The vaccination programme continues to be a huge success.

"We should be able enjoy the benefits of that."

The Department for Transport (DfT) said its decisions are made by ministers, informed by coronavirus data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

A DfT spokesperson said: "Continuing with our phased approach to restarting international travel while protecting public health, we are engaging with governments around the world, offering technical expertise and support to help them make any improvements needed for a change in traffic light rating."