Britain’s busiest airport has attacked the federal government for “curbing the UK’s international connectivity” by introducing extra pink tape for transit passengers and scrapping tax-free procuring.

Saying its site visitors figures for April 2024, Heathrow’s bosses deplored three particular authorities insurance policies:

  • “The introduction of pointless visas for transiting passengers.
  • “The absence of tax-free procuring.
  • “The not too long ago proposed hike in enterprise charges.”

The airport says ministers ought to “take a cross-government strategy to policymaking that helps UK aviation’s international competitiveness”.

The British authorities has gone far additional than another nation in demanding that each one non-UK passengers in transit by means of Heathrow – the principle hub airport – should acquire an Digital Journey Authorisation (ETA) upfront.

Not solely does this price an extra £10 on high of the air fare, it additionally provides a delay of as much as three days and further pink tape.

Heathrow’s rivals – Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris CDG – don’t have any such hurdles aside from just a few particular nationalities. They’re anticipated to select up a major proportion of Heathrow’s enterprise in consequence.

ETAs had been first launched in November 2023 and are at present being enforced for nationals of Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The federal government says the rollout “will proceed all through 2024”.

A authorities spokesperson stated: “Requiring transit passengers to acquire an Digital Journey Authorisation ensures we’re making the border safer, and stops individuals who could use connecting flights to keep away from gaining their permission to journey to the UK when they don’t have it.

“We’re retaining this beneath evaluate as we proceed to roll out the scheme.”

Tax-free procuring and VAT refunds on purchases for guests to Britain ended on 1 January 2021, the day the UK absolutely left the EU. They had been scrapped by Rishi Sunak, who was chancellor on the time.

Kwasi Kwarteng, chancellor beneath Liz Truss’s temporary premiership, vowed to reinstate them. However this U-turn was itself reversed by his substitute, Jeremy Hunt, when Rishi Sunak grew to become prime minister.

The federal government spokesperson stated: “VAT-free procuring stays accessible for all non-UK guests shopping for objects in retailer and having them despatched on to their abroad deal with.

“The UK aviation business is among the greatest on the earth and we stay dedicated to supporting airports to spice up our international connectivity and develop our financial system.”

Heathrow returned to revenue final 12 months after struggling heavy losses through the Covid pandemic.


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