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BA Boss Warns Airport Testing is Crucial for Airline’s Survival

Posted on 15th September 2020

Alex Cruz, boss of British Airways has stated that the airline ‘can only survive’ should airport testing be introduced to replace the current 14-day quarantine period, as it’s believed this will encourage more people to return to flying.

Mr Cruz said that the loss of 95% of flights during lockdown has resulted in the aviation industry ‘fighting for its very survival.’ At present, the airline is still only operating at 30% capacity, which is having a severe negative impact.

He said: “These are the toughest times in the history of the aviation industry. British Airways can survive, but only if the Government will work with us, rather than against us. […] Thirty other countries have introduced airport testing to unlock the problem so, my question to Government is, why can’t we? Ministers must work with international partners to agree on a universal arrivals and departures testing process. Just as safety agreements are mutually recognised internationally, so should health standards.”

The major airline’s boss criticised the Government for delaying the go ahead for testing at Heathrow Airport where testing facilities have already been put in place but are not being utilised.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary indicated support for a ‘two-test approach’ which means passengers will be swabbed when they arrive in the UK and then again between 5 and 8 days later. Those with negative results will then be allowed to come out of quarantine before the required 14 days. However, at present, there is no set date for the introduction of these plans, as over 40 Conservative MPs urge the Prime Minister to launch airport testing.

Chief Executive of Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade said: “Aviation is in crisis and airlines and airports will go out of business if we cannot resume international travel.”

Just last week IAG – owner of British Airways – announced that it would be cutting flights as a result of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. The group expects that between October and December this year, it will operate at 60% less capacity than usual.

IAG also stated that it doesn’t believe passenger demand will recover to levels seen last year, until at least 2023; a worrying thought for the aviation industry. Jobs have already been cut and more are expected, as BA itself plans to lose 13,000 jobs and EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic are set to cut 4,500.

The Chief Executives of Britain’s carriers wrote a joint letter to Boris Johnson waning that the UK is “falling well behind international rivals’ and stating that failure to re-open the skies will come at a cost of around £60bn to the UK economy.