Airlines in crisis because of "irrational" 14-day quarantine, says British Airways boss

8 June 2020, 11:40 | Updated: 8 June 2020, 11:55

By Seán Hickey

The head of the group in charge of British Airways has branded the government's quarantine policy for people coming into the UK as irrational.

Today marks the day that the UK implements it's 14-day quarantine for people coming into the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Willie Walsh, the CEO of the International Airline Group which is the parent group of British Airways, joined Nick Ferrari this morning to dissect the policy and the impact it will have on the air travel industry.

Nick began by asking what Mr Walsh thought the impact of the policy is for his company and the whole country." He couldn't describe the news as anything other than "very irrational behaviour."

Mr Walsh was mystified by the government "tightening restrictions at a time when everyone else is removing them" and felt that it was an irresponsible move.

He went on to state that the group thinks the legislation is "irrational" and "disproportionate." Nick pointed out a move by IAG to bring the government's quarantine plans to court to be reassessed and Mr Walsh justified it by saying that in his eyes the rules were "introduced without prior consultation and as far as we can see without any risk assessment."

Nick wanted Mr Walsh to quantify how bad the news could be in terms of job losses in the airline industry. The CEO told listeners that "we are facing a severe crisis" adding that "without question it will interfere with the plans we had to hoped to bring back flights in July and August."

"This is a huge blow."

The government's 14 day quarantine plan could have serious economic effects on the airline industry
The government's 14 day quarantine plan could have serious economic effects on the airline industry. Picture: PA

Nick pointed out to the airline boss that there will be a government review in the coming weeks on whether to ease the quarantine restrictions, which many believe that the 14 day rule will be scrapped. "Does that give you and your colleagues any comfort?" Nick wondered.

Mr Walsh insisted it would be welcome should the rules be parked after review, but in the meantime the effects will be detrimental. "We need to send a message out to the world that the UK is back open for business, this sends the opposite message" he said.

Nick wanted to know if the government's air bridge scheme have any merit to boost the airline industry, where Mr Walsh told him that "anything that removes this restriction clearly has merit."

He added that if IAG's court appeal on the 14 day quarantine is thrown out of court, the sooner we pursue the airbridge system, the better it will be for the industry.

In his final words, Mr Walsh called on the government to "admit this was a mistake" to introduce the 14 day quarantine while many countries are seeing coronavirus numbers decrease.

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