The UK’s aviation sector will “absolutely” reclaim its pre-pandemic status, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted.
Airlines and airports claim the Government’s quarantine and testing rules have restricted their recovery from the virus crisis.
Heathrow has gone from being Europe’s busiest airport in 2019 to 10th, behind rivals in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.
According to industry body Airlines UK, the UK’s aviation network was behind only the US and China before the pandemic.
Asked if the sector would recover, Mr Shapps replied: “It will. Absolutely.”
He added that the UK would “not only get flying again”, but was also “leading on decarbonising aviation as well, which is a huge challenge”.
The Cabinet minister said new rules for international travel announced last week would bring the UK towards “the more normal world of travel, which is that when you’re fully vaccinated you will be able to travel”.
He added: “That relies on other countries doing the same thing.”
One of the key changes announced last week was that fully vaccinated travellers would no longer need to take a pre-departure test.
And from the end of next month, they would be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR test after they arrive.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will urge US president Joe Biden to lift the ban on travel from the UK to the US when they meet him at the White House on Tuesday.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want to get to a situation where Brits are able to travel to one of our closest partners in the world, and the Prime Minister will be making it very, very clear that travel to and from the UK is safe.
“It’s important to us, and as strong international partners that’s what we should be looking to do.”
He added that “there’ll be no need to bang any tables to get the point across”.