Henry Smith, the Tory chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group, said: “The figures show the number of people testing positive is extraordinarily low, around one per cent or lower. It is therefore a level of expense and complication that doesn’t justify the minimal public health risk that there is.”
Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “Getting rid of PCR tests would be cheaper and a step forward but pre-departure tests are a barrier to travel for other reasons. Families worry they will be stranded overseas, which when they have kids or jobs to return to is a huge problem.
“Ultimately we cannot reopen properly with these layers of complexity. The economic costs of this are huge.”
It is believed health department officials are concerned that ditching pre-departure tests will remove a key barrier to the import of Covid. “I am concerned the health lobby will not let this through,” said a senior MP.
In a letter on Thursday, bosses of Britain’s biggest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted – also urged Boris Johnson to ditch all travel tests for fully jabbed holidaymakers, or risk “squandering” the advantage the UK could gain from its successful vaccination programme.
Unvaccinated travellers are expected to be required to continue to take PCR and pre-departure tests but ministers have yet to decide whether they should also face quarantine.