Heathrow wants quarantine exit plan as traffic plummets
Heathrow Airport is urging the UK government to outline its strategy for exiting the about to be imposed 14-day quarantine period for the bulk of passengers arriving in the country.
The airport believes that a clear exit strategy is vital to assist the UK’s ailing aviation industry, which has seen British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic all announce major job losses, and reboot the economy.
“Aviation is the lifeblood of this country’s economy, and until we get Britain flying again, UK business will be stuck in third gear,” said Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye.
“The government needs to urgently lay out a roadmap for how they will re-open 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.”
Just 200,000 passengers passed through Heathrow in April, a 97% drop on the same month a year ago, with most of them on board the 218 charted repatriation flights that landed at Heathrow.
The monthly total is what one of the world’s busiest airports would typically handle in a single day before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Passengers arriving from France will be exempt from the forthcoming UK coronavirus quarantine measures announced by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Sunday, in a bid to prevent COVID-19 being brought in from overseas.
The airport notes that it supports the UK government’s aim of avoiding a second wave of infection, even though it claims that the 14 day quarantine plan will “effectively close borders temporarily”.
It notes: “It is likely that few passenger flights will operate and even less people will travel until the quarantine is lifted.
“Without long haul passenger flights, there will be very limited trade as 40% of UK exports and inward supply chain travels in the cargo holds of passenger planes from Heathrow. Until people can fly freely again, industries in all corners of the country will remain stagnant.”