in Aerospace

Heathrow requests quarantine exit plan

Posted 11 May 2020 · Add Comment

Whilst supporting the UK Government's aim to avoid increasing COVID-19 infections - with a 14 day quarantine plan for those flying into the UK from places other than Ireland and France to be introduced later this month - Heathrow has called on Government to provide a quarantine exit plan to help reboot the UK economy.

Courtesy Heathrow
The airport supports Government’s aim of avoiding a second wave of infection, even though the 14 day quarantine plan will effectively close borders temporarily. It is likely that few passenger flights will operate and even less people will travel until the quarantine is lifted.

Passenger numbers were down 97% in April with the airport supporting essential travel for just 200,000 people in the entire month – the same number it would typically serve in just one day. Many of those passengers were on board the 218 charted repatriation flights that landed at Heathrow. Demand is expected to remain weak until governments lift lockdowns.

A total of 1,788 cargo only flights operated from Heathrow in April, helping to bring in critical supplies of PPE. The busiest day was 30th April, with 95 dedicated cargo movements – 14 times the usual daily average pre-COVID. Even so, cargo volumes at Britain’s biggest port were down over 60%.

Without long haul passenger flights, there will be very limited trade as 40% of UK exports and inward supply chain travels in the cargo holds of passenger planes from Heathrow. Until people can fly freely again, industries in all corners of the country will remain stagnant.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Aviation is the lifeblood of this country’s economy and until we get Britain flying again, UK business will be stuck in third gear.

"The Government needs to urgently lay out a roadmap for how they will reopen borders once the disease has been beaten, and to take an immediate lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for health in aviation that will allow passengers who don’t have the infection to travel freely.”

Commenting on the Government plans to introduce a 14-day quarantine for international travellers arriving in the UK, ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “The Government’s quarantine proposal for international air passengers is a disappointing step that will put jobs at risk in the aviation and aerospace industries and in the wider economy.

“UK airlines, airports and aerospace manufacturers face an existential threat from the far-reaching impact of the current crisis.

“Before any new measures are put in place there must be consultation with industry on a pragmatic and proportionate plan to resume regular flights, protecting passengers by minimising the risk of infection while avoiding the need for quarantine arrangements.

“Building public confidence to enable the resumption of flying is a critical starting point for recovery in our industry and sectors across the economy that rely on global movement of people and goods.”

Responding to the Prime Minister's announcement about the quarantine, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said: "Public health must of course be the priority and we respect the Sage advice.

"We all - including Government - need to adapt to the new normal but closing off air travel in this way is not the way to achieve this. Ministers are effectively telling people they can no longer travel for the foreseeable future and airlines will respond to that by grounding their operations - and that is why they require urgent additional Government support to get through this growing crisis.”



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