Testing rules should become a thing of the past for fully-vaccinated travellers, according to findings of a study published by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Airlines UK.

The research – conducted by specialist consultants Oxera and Edge Health – provides the evidence to support the removal of remaining testing requirements when Government reviews international travel restrictions this week.

Findings from the new study, which MAG and Airlines UK have submitted to Ministers ahead of their review, shows that governments are not able to implement travel restrictions quickly enough for them to be effective in limiting the spread of new, more infectious variants.

As a result, imposing travel restrictions in response to the discovery of a new variant will not help control the spread of a new variant or protect public health.

Pre-departure and post-arrival PCR tests were scrapped on January 5 after Government accepted that they served no purpose once the Omicron variant had become dominant in the UK. That led to calls from across the industry to scrap the remaining requirement for post-arrival Lateral Flow Tests, a call MAG and Airlines UK is keen to reinforce.

As Omicron showed, it takes several weeks before governments become aware of new variants, and even longer to assess if they are variants of concern. By the time a new variant has been discovered and evaluated, it is too late for restrictions to make any difference.

Retaining testing measures on a permanent, but precautionary basis would have huge long-term consequences for passengers and the travel sector. The study shows that even if current testing measures were kept in place indefinitely, they would only delay the spread of a new variant in the UK by between three and five days.

The permanent use of testing as a ‘first line of defence’ delivers benefits far too small to offset the economic and social damage caused by such restrictions, the study concludes. Even such ongoing measures would only buy a handful of days in delaying the peak but would cost the UK economy between £8bn and £11bn per year.

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish said: "It is critical that travel policies are based on the best available analysis and the latest findings from Oxera and Edge Health show conclusively that testing for international travel will not deliver significant benefits in managing the spread of new variants.

"As we learn to live with Covid-19, it is important that people are allowed to travel free of the additional cost and uncertainty which testing creates.

"This study provides Ministers with the clear evidence that this is achievable.

"The UK Government has taken the step the remove domestic restrictions, and it should now apply this approach to international travel.

"We must allow the country’s worst hit sector to resume its road to recovery, and for the UK economy to benefit from the billions of pounds of economic value aviation generates."