British Airways’ parent company says it may review July restart date following PM’s mandatory isolation announcement
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Last week, British Airways’ parent company International Airlines Group announced that its airlines were set to take a “meaningful return to service” in July. It said that around 45% of flights were set to resume. However, those plans may now be stalled for U.K. flag carrier British Airways.
After Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday that the U.K. would require arriving air passengers to self-isolate for 14 days, BA’s parent company is rethinking those plans.
In a Monday meeting with the Transport Select Committee, International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh voiced his concern with the mandatory 14-day isolation for arriving passengers
“The announcements yesterday of a 14-day period for coming into the U.K., it’s definitely going to make it worse”, Walsh said. “We had been planning to resume on a pretty significant basis of flying in July. I think we would have to review that based on what the prime minister said yesterday.
“At this stage, I imagine our capacity in and out of the U.K. will be pretty minimal in that event”.
Johnson’s announcement in a televised address to the country on Sunday night provided very few details about when the 14-day quarantine would be effective as of, who would be required to take part and how the government would track it. However, in the aftermath of the announcement, the government did make clear that the 14-day quarantine wouldn’t apply to travellers coming from Ireland or France.
As a result of the broad announcement, airlines and airports have voiced concern offer the restrictions, which could inhibit how business returns in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown.
“We all — including government — need to adapt to the new normal but closing off air travel in this way is not the way to achieve this”, Airlines U.K. CEO Tim Alderslade said in a statement. “Ministers are effectively telling people they can no longer travel for the foreseeable future and airlines will respond to that by grounding their operations – and that is why they require urgent additional Government support to get through this growing crisis”.
It’s worth noting that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office still advises against all non-essential travel. At this point, there’s no signal as to when the U.K.’s own travel restrictions may be lifted.
The government is expected to publish its report on the latest lockdown changes on Monday afternoon.
Elsewhere in Europe, countries that rely heavily on tourism have alluded that they may be open for the summer travel period. For example, Greece has said that it plans to reopen for tourism from July. Several airlines have announced their plans to resume flights to the country, but whether or not the FCO will lift its restrictions in time has yet to be seen.
“Aviation is the lifeblood of this country’s economy, and until we get Britain flying again, U.K. business will be stuck in third gear”, London Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said. ”The government needs to urgently lay out a roadmap for how they will reopen borders once the disease has been beaten, and to take an immediate lead in agreeing a common international standard for health in aviation that will allow passengers who don’t have the infection to travel freely”.
Featured photo by Mike Wilkinson/Bloomberg/Getty Images.