8 JUNE 2020
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Willie Walsh, no stranger to controversy, speaking to Sky TV outside British Airways (BA) Waterside headquarters, has threatened the government with legal action if it does not withdraw its quarantine arrangements for incoming travellers from abroad due to start today. (See also COMMENT SPECIAL BTN 1 June Is British Airways still flying?)
The Sunday Times has reported the sending of a joint letter by BA, easyJet and Ryanair to Sir Jonathan Jones, Procurator General, arguing the plan is unlawful.
Mr Walsh is Chief Executive of BA's holding company the International Airlines Group (IAG). He said the measure which applies to all arrivals from abroad is an “irrational piece of legislation” and had “torpedoed” BA’s attempts to resume flight operations in July. It had hoped to operate 40% of flights next month.
Asked about the 12,000 redundancies BA is talking about Mr Walsh vented his anger pointing out that the airline is not generating any revenues and continues to burn through approximately £20m of cash a day. “The current situation is not sustainable.”
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary claimed the new quarantine measures were "designed by Dominic Cummings, for Dominic Cummings" and said the plans will cause "untold damage" to the tourism industry.
More than 300 travel and hospitality businesses have signed a letter to Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, opposing the plan, with some warning that they will go bust or be forced to lay off 60% of staff because of the loss of income.
Last Thursday Ms Patel had an online meeting with airlines to discuss the policy. BA boycotted the meeting. Alex Cruz, Chief Executive, did not participate. The policy is due to be reviewed every three weeks and the government has not ruled out “air bridges” that allow quarantine-free travel from low-risk countries.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Jo Kemp, READING
Almost every country is low risk, in comparison to the UK
Nelson Smith, Westminster
I am not a supporter of Willie Walsh. He is too brusque for me but he has stayed on and hoisted his colours. Who is going to fly the flag when he does go in October? A Spaniard!
Talking is always better than ignoring. BA were foolish not to join the discussion. I gather than Ryanair did not participate either.