IAG’s Willie Walsh Calls For Government To Open Up The UK

Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways owner IAG, today called out the United Kingdom’s blanket quarantine measures. Walsh made the comments in an opinion piece featured in The Times. UK pilot union BALPA backed the move.

United Kingdom, Quarantine, Willie Walsh
IAG CEO Willie Walsh has called for the UK to be reopened to travelers. Photo: Getty Images

Around the world, travel is slowly becoming normalized once more as countries begin to open up. Countries such as Germany will give passengers from high-risk countries an option to avoid 14-days of quarantine. However, this is not the case in the United Kingdom, where all arrivals from high-risk countries must quarantine for 14 days with very few exceptions.

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What did Walsh say?

Willie Walsh is a veteran of the airline industry, having headed significant airlines, including Aer Lingus and British Airways. He now sits as the CEO of IAG, the company that owns both airlines and more. As the head of British Airways’ parent company, Walsh has previously called out the UK’s quarantine rules.

Today in an opinion piece published in The Times newspaper, Walsh called out ‘locking up’ healthy people for 14-days. He commented, “People relaxing on holiday pose no more of a threat than someone catching a bus to the supermarket.” Walsh went on to call for the UK to introduce a testing regime like many other countries.

Willie walsh
Walsh has been critical of the UK’s quarantine policy before. Photo: Getty Images

Backed by BALPA

Willie Walsh’s comments were backed by BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton today. In a press release, the union commented:

“Willie Walsh is wrong about a lot, but he’s right about quarantine”

Strutton pointed out that “The travel and tourism industry, so vital to the UK economy, is dying before our eyes” before adding “thousands of jobs are being lost.” Many in the UK aviation industry have been calling for the UK to amend its policy, including the CEOs of the UK’s largest airlines back in August.

The alternative to quarantine?

Those who disagree with the UK’s quarantine rules aren’t calling for the flood gates to be opened. Instead, they are calling for alternate measures such as those ready to be deployed at Heathrow Airport. Last month, Simple Flying reported that Heathrow had completed a COVID-19 test facility in Terminal 2, with a similar facility to be completed soon in Terminal 5.

Heathrow Airport, COVID-19, Test Centre
Heathrow airport is waiting for the green light to begin testing passengers. Photo: Heathrow Airport via Twitter

However, due to current government guidelines, Heathrow’s test centers are useless. There is little demand for a COVID test if you will have to quarantine for 14-days regardless of the outcome.

However, many would happily pay for a COVID-19 test to be able to avoid quarantine. This has the benefit of meaning that the passengers are COVID free, in addition to making the UK a more attractive destination for holidays and business trips. All but essential travel will be avoided if passengers have to quarantine for 14-days.

Do you agree with Willie Walsh? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!