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Article from BTNews 14 SEPTEMBER 2020

Holland-Kaye on Sky

Following his words on Zoom to the Aviation Club, Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye is clearly seeking every opportunity to emphasise the crisis situation the airlines and airports are in, and the effect on the nation.

On Sky TV last Friday he issued another desperate plea for help.

His remarks came as the airport reported an 81.5% decline in passenger demand during August, normally one of the busiest months of the year.

The industry is becoming increasingly frantic as businesses continue to fold and more people lose their jobs he said.  “Yet the Government has yet to act in any meaningful way.”

Figures released showed 1.4m people travelled through Heathrow in August, less than a fifth of usual numbers.

Passengers travelling to and from North America collapsed 95%.  If the US reviews the entry rules there might be hope for North American traffic but it will have to be both ways. (see in this week's BTN)

Holland-Kaye said the airport had now trailed three rapid testing solutions and has a facility for testing passengers on arrival.

"The Government has announced it is looking at the options for reducing quarantine for passengers who test negative for Covid-19 – but Ministers urgently need to turn words into action," he said. "Every day of further Government delay costs British jobs and livelihoods. Britain's economic recovery is falling behind.

"Heathrow's traffic figures for August demonstrate the extent to which quarantine is strangling the economy, cutting British businesses off from their international markets and blocking international students, tourists and investors from coming here to spend money."

Asked about the alleged £8.5bn pay-out given to aviation by the UK Government, Holland-Kaye said he hadn’t seen any of it.  “We have only had furlough monies,” he explained pointing out that supermarkets have had their rates removed or waived this year.  “We have still had to pay out £120m pa in business rates.”  London Heathrow employs 75,000 but he fears that a third of these jobs are at risk.  

Speaking to camera Holland-Kaye said airports and airlines will go bust in the coming months “unless something changes”.

"The Government can fix this by changing the rules so that if you test negative for Covid, you can come out of quarantine early," he said. “Passengers don’t want to come to Britain and quarantine for 14 days – the whole length of their holiday!

In the House of Commons former Prime Minister Teresa May also urged the Government to introduce trials. "I am certain that testing has to be the way forward….but at the moment airports aren't even permitted to trial tests on passengers.

"Far from leading the world the UK is lagging behind."

"The infrastructure is there, the testing capability is there, and trials would, crucially, provide data."

She said current decision-making is based on modelling which “has not proved itself to be infallible during this pandemic.”


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Gary Hudson, St Helier, Jersey

I don't understand why a government that allowed millions to enter Britain without checks or tests after entering lockdown cannot grasp Covid testing at airports & is the way forward. It won't stop Covid, but tracks it, allows action do be taken, whilst opening up the economy. I live on Jersey & we've had a very successful arrival testing procedure since June