LONDON, England: London's Heathrow Airport is not recovering passenger traffic as quickly as other airports in Europe and has urged the British government to open up air travel to vaccinated passengers.
Heathrow officials noted that they have suffered losses of over $4 billion due to the pandemic.
Heathrow had been Europe's busiest airport prior to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
Passenger traffic at Heathrow remains only 20 to 25 percent of pre-pandemic levels, while European airports have returned to about 50 percent of normal, according to Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye.
"Without the passenger planes going to global markets like the U.S., UK exports aren't getting out of the country, and the UK will fall behind and that will cost jobs, unless we open up," he told Reuters on Monday.
Heathrow has requested that the government allow fully vaccinated people from the United States and the European Union to again travel into Britain without needing to quarantine for 10 days. Officials noted that this would open up Britain's travel industry and ensure a stronger recovery.
"Europeans have already opened up unilaterally with the United States, and got the benefits of doing it. There's no reason why the UK shouldn't do the same," he said, adding that the opening could happen as soon as this week.
Holland-Kaye added that travel picked up when summer holidays began. Also, discount airline Ryanair said it was seeing strong summer bookings in the U.K.
However, Heathrow officials said the year's anticipated 21 million passengers cannot compare to the 81 million prior to Covid.
Also, for the six month period ending June 30 Heathrow reported losses of $1.1 billion.