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Heathrow reports first sign of travel recovery

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A further easing of travel restrictions throughout July has resulted in a 74 per cent increase in passenger numbers at Heathrow compared to the same month last year.

In a statement, the airport said this could be the start of a long-awaited recovery in the travel sector.

With consumer confidence on the rise, over 1.5 million travellers passed through Heathrow last month, marking the highest monthly passenger numbers since March last year.

North American passenger numbers grew by nearly 230 per cent year-on-year, and New York JFK reclaimed the top spot as the most popular route from Heathrow.

Later this week Heathrow is set to further increase its transatlantic offering, as it welcomes American carrier JetBlue.

Fully vaccinated US visitors are now able to travel to the UK without the need to quarantine, though this has not been reciprocated for arrivals in the United States.

Despite signs of recovery, passenger numbers are still down over 80 per cent on pre-pandemic July 2019, as barriers to travel remain.

Ministers committed to reducing testing costs over three months ago, however, the UK still stands as an outlier with Europe slashing their prices and, in some cases, subsiding them.

Meanwhile, the cost of testing in the UK remains prohibitive for many, as the industry calls for VAT to be scrapped, alongside the use of cheaper lateral flow for low-risk destinations.

Heathrow chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe said: “Finally, some blue skies are on the horizon, as travel and trade routes slowly reopen.

“The job though is far from complete. Government must now capitalise on the vaccine dividend and seize the opportunity to replace expensive PCR tests with more affordable lateral flow tests.

“This will ensure travel remains attainable for hardworking Brits, desperate for well-earned getaways and keen to reunite with loved ones before the summer travel window closes.”

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