East Midlands Airport has welcomed the easing of COVID travel restrictions as thousands of families book last-minute February half-term holidays.
From 11th February, fully vaccinated passengers no longer need any test when travelling into the UK.
Unvaccinated passengers will not be sent into self-isolation upon their arrival in the UK but do still require a negative pre-departure PCR test.
It’s hoped the changes will provide a much-needed boost to the UK’s travel industry, even though British holidaymakers will still need to follow the COVID restrictions which apply to the country they are visiting.
VIDEO: Our reporter Conor O’Grady explains the latest easing of travel restrictions.
But it’s estimated that scrapping tests on return journeys could save an average family up to £100 and encourage more to get-away.
The Office for National Statistics estimates air travel amongst British residents was down by 76% last summer, in comparison to the summer of 2019.
The move has been welcomed by those within the travel industry, including those at East Midlands Airport who claim that the scrapping of testing is a move towards normality.
VIDEO: Ioan Reed-Aspley, from East Midlands Airport, says an important summer lies ahead for the aviation industry.
“The pandemic has hit the aviation sector very hard. This airport has been closed to passengers for large parts of the two years,” said Ioan Reed-Aspley from the airport.
“We’ve lost two summers effectively. Last year we only saw 30% of pre-COVID passenger numbers. We are hoping this year we will see some form of recovery. Altogether, we are forecasting three million passengers will come through our airport throughout the course of the year,” he added.
“But I do think it will take several years to return to pre-pandemic levels. People’s confidence has been knocked by the pandemic. More and more people are doing meetings online and that will affect business travel.”
“It’s going to make it so much simpler for passengers to travel”
Leo Jones, Travel Expert
The move coincides with a decision by the Spanish government to allow unvaccinated British teenagers into the country from Monday.
It’s hoped that holiday bookings for the February half-term will now surge as families book a last-minute getaway.
VIDEO: Leo Jones, a travel expert, has welcomed the decision to scrap Coronavirus tests for arrivals into the UK.
“It’s going to make it so much simpler for passengers to travel,” said Leo Jones, a travel expert.
“It’s not only the complexity which will help, it’s the affordability. By scrapping testing, it will make it much more affordable for passengers to travel. We’re now really starting to see an increase in those bookings which has been a massive welcome.
“This summer, though, is critical. Survivability of some of the smaller countries remains in question.
“Winter is quite a quiet time and the industry uses the summer to build up bookings. It’s absolutely critical we see these bookings come through to save some of the less-established businesses.”
VIDEO: A look at how the travel industry is supporting the scrapping of COVID-19 tests for arrivals into the UK.
Those within the industry hope that the scrapping of Coronavirus tests will be a permanent move.
In December 2021, the UK Government introduced tighter travel restrictions following the identification of the Omicron variant across parts of Europe.
“I’m optimistic that this will be the last restrictions. Nobody knows what the future is going to hold. Let’s hope Omicron will be the last variant that causes chaos in the travel industry,” said Jones.
All passengers, regardless of their vaccination status, will still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form prior to their arrival in the UK.