British Airways “will review” its proposed return to service in July following the government’s announcement that it will quarantine all inbound passengers.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, slammed Boris Johnson’s proposal of a 14-day quarantine for all air passengers arriving in the UK.
Speaking to parliament’s transport select committee, Walsh said: “We had been planning to resume on a pretty significant basis our flying in July, I think we will have to review that based on what the prime minister said.”
Walsh had earlier said the airline could run half its service from July, but said this ambition could now be abandoned.
“Despite the fact there had been some rumours about this quarantine period, I don’t think anybody believed the UK government would actually implement it if they were serious about getting the economy moving again.
“It’s a surprise, because it appears the government is not going to apply it on other means of transport. I don’t understand that, but maybe the prime minister will be able to clarify the science behind that; it seems strange to me.”
Walsh said capacity into and out of the UK “would be pretty minimal” if quarantine were to be imposed.
He predicted it would be “2023 or 2024” before the industry saw levels of demand seen in 2019.
“Some are predicting it will not be before 2026,” he added.
Walsh said he was in favour of mandatory wearing of face masks by passengers and a “track and trace” system.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency is expected to publish draft recommendations on this later this week.
“There is very little evidence of passenger to passenger contact-spreading,” Walsh added.
“We are working with regulators to implement what I hope will be a common system in Europe and hopefully globally.
“I do support mandatory wearing of face masks, I support temperature monitoring of customers coming into the airport and monitoring of customers coming in off the aircraft.”