• Sally Gethin

Quarantine - The Aviation Industry Speaks Out

Updated: Jun 7

The UK has signalled its intention to introduce a 14 day quarantine on arriving passengers from 8th June, following the path set by other countries such as New Zealand and France.

But the aviation industry is largely opposed to such measures especially when they are introduced relatively late into the pandemic and as lockdown measures are eased around the world.

IATA in particular is vocal in its resistance. Director general Alexandre de Juniac says he is ‘concerned’ describing quarantine ‘as a major deterrent to air travel’. Referring to the IATA and ACI guidelines, he says, ‘If we implement these measures then quarantine is not necessary. We are advocating against it and in favour of global harmonised standards’.

The UK aviation sector* has collectively written to the government protesting against the planned quarantine. The airline trade association wrote to the Prime Minister on 11 May: ‘An open-ended quarantine, with no set end date, will make an already critical situation for UK aviation, and all the businesses we support, even worse. People will simply choose not to travel to and from the UK, at the same time as economies in Europe and around the world begin opening up their borders and removing their own quarantines - making the UK aviation sector unable to compete.’

It concludes, ‘It is vital that we move forward, and that aviation - as well as the wider economy - has a road-map to normality. Any quarantine must be as limited and short in duration as possible, kept under permanent review and applied only in the absence of workable, evidence-led and risk-based alternatives. The industry understands that public health must remain the priority. That is why we are working at pace with Government to agree a set of new, effective health protocols guided by the science (such as face masks and temperature checks) and which can be implemented at UK airports and onboard as soon as possible.

Individual airline CEOs have also aired their grievances publicly. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says, ‘14 day quarantines are ineffective and unimplementable. Requiring international arrivals to quarantine only after they have used multiple public transport providers to get from the airport to their ultimate destination has no basis in science or medicine. We strongly urge Europe’s Governments, especially those in Ireland and the UK, to mandate to the wearing of face masks for airline, train and (London) underground passengers, as this is the best and most effective way to limit the spread of Covid-19 in public transport environments where social distancing is not possible.’

We welcome the European Union’s recommendation on face masks, and call again on the Irish and UK Government to abandon their unexplainable, ineffective, and unimplementable quarantine restrictions. Europe’s citizens can travel safely on their summer holidays wearing face masks and observing temperature protocols, but 14 day quarantines have no scientific basis, are unimplementable and unnecessary in circumstances where airline, train and underground passengers wear face masks where social distancing isn’t possible.’

*Signatories to the letter:

Tim Alderslade Chief Executive, Airlines UK

Steve Heapy Chief Executive, Jet2.com

Jason Holt CEO, Swissport Western Europe

Jonathan Hinkles Chief Executive, Loganair

Johan Lundgren Chief Executive Officer, EasyJet

Edward Wilson Chief Executive Officer, Ryanair DAC

Kenton Jarvis CEO, TUI Aviation

Andy Offer OBE Director, 2Excel Aviation

Alastair Willson Managing Director, Titan Airways

Dave Lees CEO, Bristol Airport

Robert Hough Chairman, Doncaster Sheffield Airport

Deb Bowen Rees CEO, Cardiff Airport

Alberto Martin CEO, London Luton Airport

Shai Weiss CEO, Virgin Atlantic Airways

Karen Dee Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association

Derek Provan CEO, AGS Airports Ltd

Stewart Wingate Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick Airport

Robert Sinclair CEO, London City Airport

Charlie Cornish Group Chief Executive, Manchester Airports Group

Andrew Bell Chief Executive, Regional & City Airports

Nick Barton CEO, Birmingham Airport

John Irving CEO Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Nick Jones Chief Executive, Newcastle International Airport

Richard Thomasson Managing Director, Cornwall Airport Newquay

John Holland-Kaye CEO, Heathrow Airport

Gordon Dewar CEO, Edinburgh Airport

Graham Keddie Managing Director, Belfast International Airport

Glyn Jones CEO, Stobart Aviation

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