British Airways Owner Considers Legal Action Against Quarantine

British Airways’ owner, IAG, is considering launching legal action against the UK’s planned quarantine set to start on Monday. The group’s CEO, Willie Walsh, made the comments earlier today.

British Airways take-off
IAG’s CEO has called out the United Kingdom’s planned 14-day quarantine. Photo: Getty Images

The United Kingdom’s aviation industry is very discontent with the government’s planned two-week quarantine set to start on Monday. Indeed, Ryanair ridiculed the idea earlier this week, saying that it would be unenforceable. Now, IAG has joined calls against the quarantine saying in a letter to MPs that the new policy would “torpedo” the airline’s planned July recovery during this unprecedented situation.

Walsh’s words

Last night IAG CEO, and former British Airways CEO, Willie Walsh wrote to the MPs regarding a discussion about aviation held in Parliament yesterday. In the letter, seen by Simple Flying, Walsh said:

“British Airways had hoped to operate about 40% of our scheduled flights in July but this has been torpedoed by the introduction of the 14-day quarantine period for people arriving into the UK.”

Donald Trump, Global Travel Ban, Immigration
The quarantine would ‘torpedo’ British Airways’ return. Photo: Getty Images

The 14-day quarantine would mean that all but essential travel was avoided. Most people would put off meetings and holidays if it meant 14 days stuck at home or in a hotel. This means that British carriers would be unfairly suppressed while other airlines across the world are beginning to recover.

However, this morning the group’s CEO was interviewed by Sky News regarding the current state of British Airways. He told the Sky News’ Ian King,

“We are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation, so we’re reviewing that with the lawyers later on today… it’s important to point out there was no consultation with the industry prior to enacting this legislation and we do believe it is an irrational piece of legislation.”

It seems as though IAG wouldn’t be alone if it were to launch legal action against the quarantine. Indeed, a Ryanair spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“Ryanair will support any legal action launched by IAG against this UK’s ineffective and useless visitor quarantine”.

What else was discussed?

Of course, the hot topic in the British Airways world was also discussed, the looming threat of staff redundancies. Walsh again reiterated that British Airways isn’t yet committed to cutting 12,000 jobs, but rather consulting with unions. Just days ago, in another letter seen by Simple Flying, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz called out the Unite and GMB unions for not engaging in discussions with the carrier.

IAG, British Airways, Job Consultation
British Airways is in consultations with unions regarding up to 12,000 job cuts. Photo: British Airways

What about slots?

Recently Unite began campaigning for British Airways to have its landing slots reviewed. On Wednesday, Cruz called the union’s campaign ‘bizarre’ for being almost counterintuitive. He said:

“I don’t need to tell you that every slot lost will lead to jobs in BA being permanently lost.”

Walsh added that British Airways would like to hold on to its prime London Heathrow slots if possible. As the British flag carrier, British Airways has by far the most slots at London Heathrow.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Last year Virgin campaigned for more Heathrow slots. Photo: Fraport

Last year Virgin Atlantic launched a campaign to become Britain’s second flag carrier and to be allocated a more significant portion of slots when Heathrow’s third runway is completed. The airline at the time said that such action could lead to it launching a robust short-haul network.

However, a lot has changed since then. Firstly, towards the start of the current aviation crisis, Virgin’s regional subsidiary, Flybe, folded. Since then, Virgin has enacted several cost-cutting measures, including closing its London Gatwick base.

What do you make of Walsh’s latest comments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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