Heathrow boss tells Government to reveal holiday green list countries

Heathrow chief says Government should reveal which countries will make it onto holiday green list to protect British tourists from shortage of flights and soaring prices

  • Government set to announce expansion of ‘green list’ destinations on June 7
  • But Heathrow Airport’s boss said government isn’t giving people enough time
  • John Holland-Kaye suggested making announcement for summer trips now
  • He warned that leaving it too late would force operators to cancel flights and push up prices

The boss of Heathrow Airport has urged the government to reveal its green list of summer holiday destinations to save families from the misery of soaring prices and reduced options.

John Holland-Kaye warned that keeping the list of safe destinations for July and August under wraps would lead to operators scaling back on scheduled flights which would lead to a huge rise in seat prices.

He pointed to popular destinations such as Spain and its Balearic islands where Covid infections are low, suggesting they were ‘coming into the green zone’ but may not be announced for weeks.

There are only 12 locations that have so far been added to the green list, but Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland are seen as actual holiday destinations. 

There is set to be an expansion of the list on June 7, with Jamaica, Finland, and the Canary Islands seen as possibilities, although Boris Johnson has warned that the list will not expand ‘very rapidly’.

Heathrow Airport’s chief executive has urged the government to reveal its green list of summer holiday destinations to save families from the misery of soaring prices and reduced options

John Holland-Kaye warned that keeping the list of safe destinations for July and August under wraps would lead to operators scaling back on scheduled flights which would lead to a huge rise in seat prices

Mainland European destinations such as Spain, France and Italy are also expected to be much further off.

Mr Holland-Kaye told The Telegraph: ‘I fear the Government is going to drag its feet on Spain. I think that will be a mistake and the reason for that is that very few people are flying in spite of all the hype we see.

‘From the week before travel opened up with the first green countries, we went from 7,000 passengers departing a week to between 10,000 and 11,000. People were being very disciplined and following the guidance.

Currently there are only 12 destinations on the government’s ‘green list’

‘If we don’t put Spain on the list soon, then people will face a dilemma. Do I not go on holiday at all and face another rainy summer in the UK? Or do I break the rules and go to an amber country against guidance? People don’t want to break the rule

The chief executive said the government ought to be doing holidaymakers ‘a service’ by giving them enough warning that Spain, while not given the green list next week, will be possible in July.

But if the government leaves an announcement until June ‘it will be too late’.

It comes as a report from the CEBR economic forecasting group warned that the UK is set to miss out on billions of pounds of spending from passengers arriving into Heathrow if the green list is not extended as part of the upcoming travel review.

Business and leisure passengers arriving at the airport are estimated to spend over £16 billion a year across the UK, sustaining jobs at thousands of businesses.

US visitors travelling through Heathrow are the largest source of inbound tourism revenue for the economy, with these passengers accounting for £3.74 billion, said the report.

There is a risk that US visitors could go elsewhere, as countries such as Italy and France prepare to welcome them back, it was warned.

Paul Charles, chief executive at The PC Agency, included Grenada, Morocco and Finland as green on his unofficial traffic light system based on current infection rates and the percentage of people who have been vaccinated

Mr Holland-Kaye said the government ought to be doing holidaymakers ‘a service’ by giving them enough warning that Spain, while not given the green list next week, will be possible in July

The report was published as Heathrow is working with the Government to launch a dedicated red list arrivals facility, creating more capacity for arrivals from an expanded green list.

The facility will be launched on June 1 in Terminal 3 before being moved to Terminal 4. 

John Holland-Kaye said: ‘This research shows just how many businesses across the UK are losing out because of the Government’s restrictions on access to overseas visitors and markets.

‘The Government has the tools to protect both public health and the economy and ministers must unlock more low-risk destinations across Europe, as well as the US, as part of the next review on June 7.’

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