Covid-19: Heathrow touts Britain to lead revival of mass international travel
Britain can become the first country to resume mass international travel, building on its early roll-out of coronavirus vaccinations, according to the head of London Heathrow airport.
The pandemic wiped out almost two-thirds of revenue at what was previously Europe’s busiest airport, and pushed the hub to a 2 billion-pound ($2.8 billion) loss last year, Heathrow said Wednesday in a statement.
But Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tentative plan to resume flights as early as May 17 gives the nation a chance to get people flying before rival economies.
“We will work with the global travel task-force so that Britain can become the first country in the world to safely restart international travel and trade at scale,” Holland-Kaye said.
Airline shares surged this week Johnson’s plan, announced Monday, to gradually release the U.K. economy from lockdown.
Johnson has a unique opportunity to shape a common international standard for safe travel with other world leaders when he hosts the G7 summit in June, Holland-Kaye said.
The CEO reiterated calls for support for aviation in the UK budget next month, including 100% business rates relief, an extension to furlough payments, and reversing a tourist tax.
The number of passengers flying through Heathrow fell by 73% last year. More than half of the 22.1 million people flew last January and February, before lockdowns hit.
Heathrow said it expects to attract 37.1 million passengers this year, down 54% from 2019, with most of the rebound coming in the second half.