The Government confirmed on Wednesday that fully vaccinated arrivals from the European Union and the US will be welcome to travel to the UK without quarantine on arrival. Following the announcement, Heathrow Airport announced a new initiative that bosses hope will help reunite families who have been parted for more than a year.
According to the London-based flight hub, “thousands of pounds” worth of flights are up for grabs.
Dubbed ‘Come Fly Again’, the scheme will include free flights departing from the airport and a free main meal before departure.
Winners will also be gifted travel essentials from big names in the industry including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Blue Air, Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, Fortnum and Mason, Leon, WH Smith, Macallan Whiskey, Cignpost, Heathrow Meet & Greet and Heathrow Express.
The competition also marked 75 years of Heathrow Airport, which opened its doors in 1946.
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The scheme launches in line with new research by the transport giant which found 62 percent of British people haven’t seen some of their loved ones in over a year, with the typical family now having a distance of 1,724 miles between them and their furthest away loved one.
That is the equivalent of travelling from London Heathrow to Tenerife, Istanbul or Moscow.
One in three people said reuniting with friends and family is the driving force behind wanting to travel again.
The airport found that Spain topped the list as the destination UK travellers were most desperate to get back to.
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According to the research, the return to travel is also likely to boost mental health for many.
Approximately 75 percent of respondents said holidays help them to take a break from the stresses of life.
Meanwhile, 76 per cent instantly feeling the positive effects on their mental health when on holiday.
Winners will be announced at three points during the year, allowing passengers to reunite with loved ones over the summer, autumn school holidays and Christmas.
To enter, hopeful holidaymakers simply need to email [email protected] explaining whom they want to reunite with, where they hope to travel and why the reunion is so important to them.
Ross Baker, chief operating officer at Heathrow said:: “As we celebrate 75 years of connecting the public to the world of travel, we’re delighted to be welcoming more passengers back to Heathrow.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important that we help to reconnect friends, family and loved ones across the globe, so we’re happy to be able to work with our incredible airport partners to make the experience more special after what has been such a difficult year, for so many.”
Airport bosses have been vocal in their belief that travel should have been reopened with the aid of testing throughout the pandemic.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of the airport, has said that allowing double-jabbed US citizens to travel to the UK will provide a huge boost to the aviation industry.
Upon the EU reopening unilaterally to the US, Mr Holland-Kaye said: “There’s no reason why the UK shouldn’t do the same.
“I think that could happen this week.”
The airport has seen a cumulative loss of around $4 billion as the result of travel restrictions.
Now, passenger levels sit between 20 and 25 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
European airports, meanwhile, are recording around 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
“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.
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