A deadline of November 1 is needed for the government’s new testing taskforce to safeguard the economy and thousands of jobs.

The demand came from Heathrow as it reported a 82% decline in September traffic with a year-on-year loss of 5.5 million passengers to just 1.2 million.

Long-haul business travel continues to be restricted by international border closures and a lack of Covid testing.

The UK economy is losing £32 million a day because air travel with the US is effectively closed, according to estimates from consultancy York Aviation.

Most travel from the London hub was to the remaining European destinations on the UK’s travel corridors list.

However, the number of countries on this list has steadily declined since its launch, with 61 countries now requiring a 14-day quarantine period.

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce, announced last week, will consider how testing could be introduced to safely reduce the length of quarantine.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye described the task force as a “great step forward” but its needs to act quickly to save the millions of UK jobs that rely on aviation.

He added: “Implementing ‘test and release’ after five days of quarantine would kick start the economy.

“But the government could show real leadership by working with the US to develop a Common International Standard for pre-departure testing that would mean that only Covid-free passengers are allowed to travel from high risk countries.”

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