Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 31 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

BA owner considering legal challenge to UK quarantine rules

IAG chief warns ‘irrational’ coronavirus measure would scupper airline’s chance of resuming most flights in July

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said British Airways was fighting for its survival. 
Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, said British Airways was fighting for its survival. 

The parent company of British Airways is considering launching a legal challenge against the UK's plan to quarantine arriving travellers, its chief executive said on Friday.

IAG boss Willie Walsh told Britain’s Sky News channel there had been no consultation with the industry before the rule change and he was reviewing possible action with lawyers.

The incoming quarantine measures state that from June 8, those arriving in Britain from abroad need to stay at home for 14 days. The rule is expected to put people off of booking holidays and is a major setback for airlines, which have already been hit hard by the pandemic.

"I wrote to MPs last night to say this initiative has in effect torpedoed our opportunity to get flying in July," Mr Walsh said.

"We think it is irrational, we think it is disproportionate and we are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation."

The pandemic has brought global air travel to a near halt, with entire fleets grounded. EPA
The pandemic has brought global air travel to a near halt, with entire fleets grounded. EPA

Mr Walsh added that he expected other airlines to follow suit.

BA, along with rivals such as easyJet and Ryanair, had been hoping to resume flights in July after a three-month period where most aircraft have been grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Any legal challenge would be an escalation of the row with ministers after IAG and the head of BA declined to attend a meeting with the UK interior minister on Thursday.

BA also came under attack from British politicians earlier this week over the 12,000 job cuts it is planning to make.

It says it needs to lay off staff as the travel market will be smaller after coronavirus.

Mr Walsh told Sky News that no decisions had been made on the redundancies and urged unions to attend consultation meetings over the job cuts. IAG also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus.

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Updated: June 5, 2020 03:30 PM

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