The Manchester Airports Group and Airlines UK have called for the removal of international travel restrictions ahead of a government review expected today.
Several media organisations are already reporting that pre-departure testing for passengers returning to the UK will be dropped as part of the review.
MAG and Airlines UK cite research conducted by Oxera and Edge Health that suggests domestic restrictions would be the only way to slow the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant which is now the dominant strain in the UK.
It also found that pre-departure testing for passengers travelling to the UK and day two PCR testing introduced after the emergence of Omicron had "little to no impact" on case rates in the UK. Previously, those travelling to the UK needed only a single antigen test taken on or before the second day after arrival.
MAG said passengers numbers across its three airports – Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands – fell more than 30 per cent after the measures were introduced and reduced UK aviation's economic contribution by £60 million per week.
“The health secretary rightly acknowledged as early as 8 December that the value of any form of restrictions was significantly reduced once Omicron became dominant in the UK," said MAG CEO Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade in a joint statement.
“This latest research by Oxera and Edge Health clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in full without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK.
“It should give the UK government confidence to press ahead with the immediate removal of these emergency restrictions, giving people back the freedom to travel internationally to see loved ones, explore new places and generate new business opportunities.”
Separately, the government is said to be considering dropping confirmatory PCR tests for UK residents who test positive for Covid-19 on a lateral flow test.