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Article from BTNews 6 DECEMBER 2021

World Aviation Festival Part 2 *

John Holland-Kaye, CEO Heathrow Airport, was the key speaker on the second day of the World Aviation Festival, interviewed by John Strickland, a regular contributor to BTN.

Holland-Kaye called on governments to come together and agree on standard checks.   ”Air travellers will continue to face delays until there are standardised coronavirus checks that can be carried out automatically.

“But there is no harmony even among EU countries, with popular destinations such as Spain, Italy and France each imposing different rules for passengers.

“Until we get back to a world where there are no pre-departure tests, no post-arrival tests, no lengthy and complicated passenger locator forms you have to fill out, we’re not going to get back to travel as we knew it,” the Heathrow Chief Executive said.

Some checks do take place automatically at Heathrow’s e-gates but the gates are available only to passengers from certain countries, and have suffered glitches that caused further delays.

Ian Stamatakis-Brown of Vision Box, which manufactures e-gates, said this might happen if the passengers’ answers on the form indicated they had been in contact with positive cases.

Holland-Kaye said the seamless checks were the reason why some passengers might feel like their Covid-19 documents were not being inspected.

“When you come back into the country, if you’ve done it all properly, you can just scan your passport at an e-gate and go on your way,” he said.

“A lot of people say: ‘I had lots of checks when I went into South Africa but no checks at Heathrow! It’s a scandal!’

“No it’s not, it’s brilliant. This is exactly what we should be doing. The technology is working, the checks are happening but it’s been automated.”

John Holland-Kaye defended Heathrow’s proposed 90% price increase claiming that airlines are making money now from higher yields. Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of Gatwick explained that Gatwick was taking a different approach with only inflationary increases planned over the next few years.   He also highlighted the reasoning by Gatwick as to why the normal 80/20 slot rules should be restored from next summer so that permanent slots can be offered to new airline customers who wish to operate from his airport.

The question of runway capacity was also debated with Heathrow stressing the need to protect UK hub status for the future whilst Gatwick has just concluded a consultation on plans to bring the northern (emergency) runway into regular use in parallel with the existing runway and hence allowing a capacity increase at the airport.

Also see World Aviation Festival Part 1 in this week's BTN.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Steve Banham, Frankfurt/Germany

If only you could just scan your passport at the Heathrow e-gate and go on your way! I’ve been through Heathrow 4 times in the past 3 months and never got through the e-gate, but the Border Force officer says they’re is nothing wrong with my passport or documents.