SOUTHEND Airport has slammed “unviable” plans for a new five-day quarantine for passengers arriving in England.

Airport bosses fear that proposed testing on airport arrivals - which could cost between £65 and £120 - will be too pricey for families who have picked cheap flights.

The government announced plans to cut the 14-day quarantine period from December 15, with travellers set to be allowed to leave self-isolation after five days - if they receive a negative Covid-19 test.

Glyn Jones, CEO of Southend Airport, has urged bosses to scrap quarantine altogether and instead test holiday-goers on departure before their flight takes off.

He said: “Whilst any reduction in the damaging 14 day period is welcome, quarantine remains in place for an ever changing list of destinations, which can only suppress demand for travel.

“The price for the proposed arrival tests is higher than many European flights. It is simply not viable for many hard working families.

“We call, again, for an internationally agreed testing regime before departure that is rapid, reliable and reasonably priced.

“Safety for passengers, our employees and the public remains our top priority. So we say cancel quarantine, test before take-off.”

St Laurence Councillor Daniel Cowan believes reducing the length of time passengers have to quarantine for could help encourage more people to start flying again from Southend Airport.

But he raised concerns over the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Cowan said: “It’s understandable people are wanting to get away, this year has been difficult for everyone and I think some will deal with that in a different way to others.

“I do worry though that reducing the quarantine from 14 days could help spread the virus.”

Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, admitted he doesn’t think the change will be immediate, it could give the airport a well-needed boost in spring 2021.

He added: “At the moment there is still a bit of reluctance and I think most of the airlines are reducing the number of flights they are doing for the winter period, because of a mix of the current restrictions and what they anticipate the demand to be like in this time.

“But once you get to Spring, by which the vaccines will have at least started to be rolled out, I think a lot of people will be looking at 2020 and thinking what a terrible year it was, so may decide to take a trip or weekend abroad to put it behind them.”