Travel experts slam ‘ludicrously complicated’ UK restrictions as Britain ‘loses out’

Boris Johnson discusses booster jabs for international travel

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At the Transport Select Committee, travel bosses said the Government’s plans were “very difficult”. Some said it meant the UK was lagging behind competitors.

Former British Airways chief executive, Willie Walsh, said: “The recovery is being hampered by the bureaucracy associated with UK travel.

“The UK has definitely lagged the recovery. The UK has lost ground to 38 of the other 40 Eurocontrol nations.”

The UK has some of the toughest travel restrictions in Europe as it requires double-vaccinated passengers to take a lateral flow test.

Many European countries do not require fully vaccinated passengers to take a test after arrival.

Walsh said: “There’s no justification for the continued use of these tests based on the data.”

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators’ Association said the traffic light system was very difficult to understand.

She said: “It was very difficult to understand the criteria the Government was using.

“We have lost out much more strongly than some of our European competitors.”

The traffic light system has now been scrapped but the Government has said it remains an option if needed.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, added: “We had this ludicrously complicated traffic light system that was changing at a week’s notice.”

Walsh also said the UK needed to update its system to recognise the vaccination of under 16s.

He said: “The requirement in many countries is for evidence of [vaccination] when you’re over 12 years of age.

“We’ve raised this issue. We’ve had no constructive response. It is a problem and will become a greater problem.”

Walsh also criticised Government plans to increase Air Passenger Duty on long haul flights.

He said: “APD should be scrapped. It’s just a revenue raising exercise by the Exchequer. All it does is make the aircraft operation less efficient because you have fewer people on it.”

Air passenger duty is paid by airlines but is often transferred to customers through higher seat prices.

The Chancellor has also announced a cut to domestic passenger duty, in a move that has been criticised by climate activists.

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring all passengers can have the safest journey possible to the UK.

“Our utmost priority is protecting the safety and health of the public, and we will not compromise on ensuring passengers comply with the health measures necessary to keep us all safe.

“Day two testing allows the UK Health Security Agency to monitor what variants, if any, are being brought into the UK.

“We are exploring ways to enable children aged 12-15 to demonstrate their vaccination status for the purpose of international travel.”

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