Coronavirus quarantine could put 25,000 jobs at risk, Heathrow boss warns

8 June 2020, 07:18

The aviation idusindustry has been vocal in opposition to the 14-day quarantine
The aviation idusindustry has been vocal in opposition to the 14-day quarantine. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The boss of Heathrow Airport has warned new coronavirus quarantine measures could put 25,000 jobs at risk at the airport.

All passengers will be required to comply with new Government measures brought in to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases from today.

Those arriving in the UK will need to self-isolate for 14 days under the latest Government measure to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Read more: Two-week 'ineffective' quarantine for UK arrivals comes into force

The move has caused widespread concern it could cause lasting damage to the UK travel and aviation sectors, which have already been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the aviation industry warned a 14-day quarantine for those entering the UK could "kill" the travel industry.

They warned it was the equivalent of hanging up a “Britain is closed” sign suggesting it could further damage the economic recovery of the country and end up costing thousands of jobs in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

Read more: Boris Johnson to set out plans to 'rebuild Britain' after Covid-19 lockdown

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Now, Speaking to the City AM podcast, The City View, Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said he was now having to consider job cuts at the west London airport.

"76,000 people are employed at Heathrow," he said.

"That represents one-in-four households in the local community, so if we start cutting jobs on mass that has a devastating impact on local communities, including the Prime Minister's own constituency, which is only a few miles from the airport.

"What we've heard already from the airlines is that they are cutting around a third of all employees, so that would be 25,000 people out of work.

"That would be a devastating blow to west London and the Thames Valley."

Asked if he would also have to consider the future of a third of his workforce, Mr Holland-Kaye replied: "That's exactly the right kind of number.

"And I don't want to see that happen. But we'll have to make that decision, within the next couple of weeks."

Mr Holland-Kaye said airport passenger numbers for most of April, May and June were between 5,000 to 7,000 each day.

He said: "With the quarantine coming into today, we would expect that to continue until the quarantine is lifted. "

In 2018, an average of 219,458 people were passing through Heathrow each day.

Speaking about the new quarantine measures, he said: "We have to assume the worst, and all businesses in aviation are suffering, very badly.

"I heard one airport talk about it being days and not weeks before they face bankruptcy. That's how bad things have got.

"Airlines are not making jobs, making redundancies and cutting pay because they want to, it's because they're in a survival mode."

Mr Holland-Kaye said the industry needs the Government to move quickly and in a "co-ordinated" way to reopen the aviation sector.

He added: "But at the moment we're being held back. And if we aren't able to get people flying again, that really is going to delay the recovery of the rest of the economy."

Simon McNamara of the International Air Transport Association said the lifting of coronavirus measures will do nothing to help people travel if a mandatory two-week quarantine is in place.

"All the evidence we have is that this will just kill travel," Mr McNamara told The Times.

"If (governments) persist with quarantine it is effectively the same as locking down your country."