Boss says British Airways 'can only survive' with airport testing

British Airways boss warns airline ‘can only survive’ if airport testing is introduced instead of quarantine and calls for immediate trial on critical London to New York route

  • British Airways boss Alex Cruz said airline ‘can only survive’ with airport testing
  • He said the aviation industry is fighting to survive after losing 95% of flights  
  • Mr Cruz urged ministers to begin a testing trial instead of a 14-day quarantine 

British Airways boss has warned that the airline ‘can only survive’ if airport testing is introduced instead of a 14-day quarantine to encourage more Britons to fly again. 

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz has said the aviation industry is fighting ‘for its very survival’ after losing 95 per cent of flights during the coronavirus lockdown.

The airline is still only running at 30 per cent of capacity amid the Covid-19 crisis, the Daily Telegraph reported. 

Mr Cruz told the Telegraph: ‘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.’

British Airways boss has urged ministers to introduce airport testing instead of a 14-day quarantine to encourage more Britons to travel again

He has urged ministers to launch an immediate testing trial in place of the 14-day quarantine passengers are currently subject to when arriving back in the UK from high-risk countries. 

The BA boss wants to see testing quickly introduced on the critical London to New York air route, a bigger list of ‘regional travel corridors’ which include the US and air passenger duty waived for 12 months.

Mr Cruz said airport testing for Covid-19 is vital for lifting quarantine measures and opening travel and business links that have been ‘decimated, stifling economic growth’.

He added: ‘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.’ 

Mr Cruz criticised the Government for ‘sitting on its hands’ and delaying the go ahead for testing at Heathrow, where facilities have already been built and are ‘ready to go’. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated his support for a two-test approach, where passengers are swabbed on arrival in the UK and again five or eight days later.

Those who have negative test results would then be released from quarantine measures, reducing the restrictions from the current 14 days.

But no date has been set for the introduction of these plans, with more than 40 Conservative MPs urging Boris Johnson to introduce airport testing. 

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘Aviation is in crisis and airlines and airports will go out of business if we cannot resume international travel.’

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz (above) wants to see testing introduced on the London to New York route and a bigger list of ‘regional travel corridors’, including the US

This comes soon after British Airways owner IAG announced earlier this week that it is cutting flights due to coronavirus travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

Between October and December the group expects to operate 60 per cent less capacity than during the same period last year, compared with a previously planned reduction of 46 per cent.

The firm said it continues to expect it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels. It is not yet clear which BA routes will be affected.

BA previously announced plans to cut 13,000 jobs and its competitors EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic are also slashing 4,500 roles. 

Aviation bosses have said the government’s quarantine policy requiring people to isolate for 14 days after returning from high risk countries is also suppressing demand.  

In a joint letter to the Prime Minister today, the chief executives of Britain’s carriers warn the UK is ‘falling well behind international rivals’ and say failure to re-open the skies will cost the economy £60billion. 

Owner IAG added that since July there has been an ‘overall levelling off of bookings’, IAG said.

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