Heathrow CEO: UK tourist tax hands competitive advantage to EU rivals
Passenger numbers at Heathrow fell by 88% in November, as travel restrictions and a second lockdown took their toll. Based on current forecasts and continued decline in passengers, the decision has been taken for Terminal 4 to remain non-operational until the end of 2021.
Heathrow is calling for targeted, sector specific Government support to protect jobs and help drive the UK’s economic recovery. These include full business rates relief for all UK airports and abandoning the disastrous “tourist tax” which will make the UK the only country in Europe not to offer tax-free shopping for international visitors. The move is expected to result in 2,000 retail job losses at Heathrow alone.
Cargo volumes remain significantly below last year, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s international trade.
Heathrow has partnered with transatlantic carriers British Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic on a cross-industry study aimed at eradicating the need for quarantine for passengers, by demonstrating the effectiveness of pre-departure testing in reducing transmission while making free movement easier.
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye said: “2021 should be the year of Britain’s economic recovery. But recent announcements, such as the tourist tax, could be the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses such restaurants, hotels and theatres that rely on inbound tourists, as well as for retailers. To make Global Britain a reality, the government should be helping the aviation sector to survive, to develop routes to our key trading partners, and attract businesses and tourists to come to Britain to spend their money.”