Digital display boards show cancelled flights to London Heathrow at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa Photograph:( Reuters )
With the Omicron coronavirus variant stalling recovery prospects, the number of passengers passing through London's main airport dropped more than 12 percent last year
The Heathrow Airport in London suffered 600,000 flight cancellation in December last year as cases related to the Omicron variant surged in the United Kingdom.
Airport authorities are demanding an end of coronavirus testing for those who have been fully inoculated as passengers are abandoning their plans due to uncertainty in restrictions.
"Covid-19 continues to pose significant challenges for the travel industry," Heathrow said in a statement.
With the Omicron coronavirus variant stalling recovery prospects, the number of passengers passing through London's main airport dropped more than 12 percent last year.
The airport's chief executive John Holland-Kaye said, "There are currently travel restrictions, such as testing, on all Heathrow routes."
"The aviation industry will only fully recover when these are all lifted and there is no risk that they will be reimposed at short notice, a situation which is likely to be years away."
Britain still requires all inbound travellers to take either a PCR or a rapid lateral flow test a maximum of 48 hours before departure, a measure Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said would be reviewed in the second week of January.
"Consumer confidence in travel has suffered a significant setback, which will outlast these restrictions," said Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of travel association ABTA.
The airport welcomed 19.4 million passengers last year, less than one-quarter of the level in 2019 before the pandemic struck. Passenger numbers dropped 12.3 percent compared with 2020.
The Omicron variant was first detected in November last year in southern Africa and Hong Kong and has so far has been reported in at least 89 countries.
More than 150,000 people have died after catching coronavirus in the United Kingdom as per the British government. It reported that deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test had reached 150,057 since the start of the pandemic.
(With inputs from agencies)