Heathrow calls for urgent plan to restart more flights
Heathrow has called on the government to urgently lay out a road map for airports to restart more flights after Boris Johnson confirmed the move would require travellers to self-isolate on arrival in the UK.
Britain’s biggest airport said in a statement that the quarantine plan would effectively close the UK’s borders, prompting an even bigger fall in passenger numbers, which in April were 200,000 – the same number that would usually pass through Heathrow in one day.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said: “The government needs to urgently lay out a road map 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.”
Airline and tourism bosses have already warned that the 14-day quarantine plan would be a “nightmare” for the travel industry if tourists and business travellers were forced to stay in one location for two weeks on arrival in the UK.
Heathrow’s traffic fell by 97% in April compared with the same month last year, with Britons banned from all but essential travel and borders closed in many countries across the world. The few flights that have landed have mainly been repatriation services to bring home Britons trapped abroad.
The decline in passenger numbers has rocked the aviation industry, with tens of thousands of job cuts planned at carriers including British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic. Holland-Kaye has already warned that Heathrow may have to make thousands of job cuts if the government does not lay out a clear plan.
Unlike many other countries, the UK has not imposed any conditions on arrivals from abroad, but Heathrow last week unilaterally decided to check passengers’ temperature to detect signs of fever.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, said detailed guidance for the transport sector during the next phase of lockdown would be published on Tuesday.
EasyJet said on Monday any quarantine restrictions should not last beyond lockdown and should be regularly reviewed.
“Requirements should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are targeted and proportionate and do not unnecessarily constrain the important role that air travel will have in the UK’s economic recovery,” a spokeswoman said.
Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, last week said there would be no recovery in air passenger volumes if the 14-day quarantine were imposed.
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