Airport arrivals are still 54% lower than pre-pandemic levels, despite travel restrictions being eased, new figures reveal.
Just 4.5 million airline passengers arrived in the country last month, according to Home Office data.
That was two-and-a-half times more than the figure of 1.7 million in October last year, but 54% lower than the 9.8 million arrivals during the same month in 2019.
The aviation industry has previously said the relaxation of travel rules ahead of the October half-term unleashed pent-up demand.
However, the total number of arrivals between April 2020 and October 2021 was still 53% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Some 61% of air arrivals into the UK last month were British nationals.
Passengers pass an International Arrivals sign at Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport. Some 61% of air arrivals into the UK last month were British nationals
Just 4.5 million airline passengers arrived in the country last month, according to Home Office data
The travel sector has been badly hit by the fall in demand, with thousands of jobs lost.
Aviation bosses have repeatedly urged the Government to reduce and simplify the regulations for arriving travellers.
Despite an easing of regulations last month, fully vaccinated travellers continue to be required to pay for a coronavirus test when they enter the UK.
There are also complaints that the passenger locator form all arrivals must submit is too complicated.
Aviation minister Robert Courts announced this week that England’s rules for international travel will be reviewed in January.
The new figures come as furious passengers blasted Heathrow for huge queues and delays in picking up bags as chaos returned to Britain’s busiest airport today.
Livid travellers vented at the ‘shambles’ caused by teaming lines and allegedly a lack of workers this morning as they tried to make it to their flights.
Some said people were getting so hot queuing for hours they had removed their masks and risked spraying Covid over other customers.
Heathrow admitted to ‘longer’ immigration queues but added that staff were ‘working hard to process passengers’.
It comes just weeks after faulty e-gates led to a horrendous backlog at the airport that saw hundreds of people waiting for up to four hours.
Livid travellers at Heathrow vented about the teaming lines and a lack of workers this morning as they tried to make it to their flights
Some said people were getting so hot queuing for hours they had removed their masks and risked spraying Covid over other customers
Pictures showed long crowds packed into cramped corridors as they waited to be processed at the airport this morning.
Others showed a stream of passengers – mostly wearing face coverings – marching past flight gates as they tried to get to their planes.
The chaos today was reportedly caused by ‘logistical problems’ leading to waits of up to an hour to collect baggage.
A spokesman for Heathrow said it was not an ‘infrastructure issue from our side’ and pointed to the airline handlers. British Airways has been contacted for comment.
One man commented online: ‘@HeathrowAirport please send more officers to the immigration counters here.’
Heathrow replied: ‘We’re aware of longer immigration queues at this time, Border Force are working hard to process passengers. Thank you for your patience.’
Another posted: ‘Hey @HeathrowAirport @British_Airways when will you be delivering luggage of BA172 from JFK? Flight landed at 0836 and arrived at 0846.’
The airport responded: ‘We are sorry to hear about the long wait. Baggage handlers are working hard to process passengers’ bags.’
Valentina Pena said: ‘@HeathrowAirport what happened to improving border agent staffing after the debacle in September?
‘I have been stood in line for over an hour, with multiple passengers beginning to take off their masks around me. Your lack of staffing is causing a serious Covid risk in T5.’
Heathrow commented: ‘We’re aware of longer immigration queues at this time, Border Force are working hard to process passengers.
‘We’re sorry to hear that passengers are removing their masks. Whilst we appreciate that some passengers and colleagues may not be able to wear face coverings, we do expect all to be wearing these where possible.’
But she hit back: ‘Unfortunately it seems people are removing their face coverings out of boredom / frustration at standing in line for nearly 2h with little progress. If wait times can’t be improved might there at least be a way of enforcing your own policies?’
The airport said: ‘Heathrow staff will be enforcing the rules that are in place that includes face masks being worn when possible.’