In another sign the aviation industry is crumbing amid the pandemic, the boss of British Airways has said the airline won’t survive unless the government introduces COVID-testing at airports instead of controversial quarantines rules.
In an opinion piece written for The Telegraph, Mr Cruz said his airline “can survive” providing the government worked with it and not “against” it.
He added that the airline operated at just 5 per cent schedule in March, April and May, which had still only increased to 30 per cent now.
“Airports like our home Heathrow have testing stations set up and ready to go, but their teams are standing idle waiting while our government sits on its hands,” Mr Cruz wrote.
“Thirty other countries have introduced airport testing to unlock the problem, so my question to the government is, why can’t we?”
Mr Cruz and other executives from the travel industry are calling for an end to the quarantine restrictions which have all but stopped the majority of travel, as it requires families and holiday-makers to self isolate for two weeks when returning to the UK.
Other countries are instead enforcing COVID-19 tests on arrival, which if negative, will allow the person to enter without quarantining.
It’s a concept Qantas boss Alan Joyce also supports.
Speaking at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, Mr Joyce said bringing in a pre-flight COVID-19 test could restart international travel sooner rather than later.
“There’s some great developments in testing that could resolve the issue of people needing to go into quarantine,” he noted.
Those tests are “potentially super-fast, 15 minutes or so,” Mr Joyce said, “to test whether you’re exposed to COVID-19, which means if you pass there’s no need to be in quarantine at the other end.”
British Airways has warned of 12,000 job losses if help isn’t provided to the airline and have already axed more than 2000 from their catering firm Do & Co.
Former prime minister Theresa May has begged Boris Johnson for rapid-fire airport testing to replace the 14 day quarantine for passengers.
Former PM Tony Blair has also waded in on the row – warning a failure to screen passengers would cripple international trade.
It is understood, however, that Mr Johnson said evidence from Public Health England shows that only 7 per cent of cases could be caught by screening passengers on arrival.
“So 93 per cent of the time you could have a real false sense of security, a false sense of confidence when you arrive and take a test,” he said.
“That’s why the quarantine system that we have has got to be an important part of our repertoire, of our toolbox, in fighting COVID.
“What we don’t want to see is reinfection coming in from abroad and quarantine is a vital part of that.”