The current UK quarantine won’t affect airBaltic’s return to London, the airline’s CEO Martin Gauss told Simple Flying today. The airline hasn’t flown to London since it became the first carrier to suspend services entirely as a result of the pandemic on March 17th.
Many airlines have been critical of the United Kingdom’s forced two week quarantine period for those entering the country. Indeed, Ryanair and easyJet have teamed up with British Airways to launch legal action against the move. The group says that these rules are stricter than those imposed on people who have COVID-19.
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Separately, IAG CEO Willie Walsh said that the measures would torpedo British Airways’ attempt at a recovery given the drop in demand. However, this drop in demand is something that airBaltic’s CEO Martin Gauss hasn’t seen.
No impact from quarantine
Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying, Gauss said that his airline is yet to see the UK quarantine impact demand for flights to London from the Baltics. He told us,
“We would have flown to London already four weeks ago… The quarantine rules would at the moment not have initially had an impact because there’s so much demand for people to travel at all that they would take that quarantine.”
Gauss went on to add that before the current crisis, London was the strongest route from the Baltics for both him and his competitors. Currently, flights to London are due to resume on June 30th, one day after the UK government previously said it would review quarantine arrangements.
However, Gauss told us that it is instead the COVID factor in the UK being too high that is affecting the service’s resumption. The Latvian government has stipulated that “international passenger carriage is not provided to the countries with a cumulative 14-day incidence of more than 25 per 100 000 inhabitants”. As such, airBaltic is currently unable to fly to Sweden, which also has a substantial demand, and the United Kingdom.
Family trumps quarantine
When explaining his reasoning, Gauss pointed out that people will be willing to undergo a 14-day quarantine if it means that they can see their family for the first time in four months. He said,
“People would just fly and do the quarantine… I think if somebody hasn’t been in the UK for four months and who is from the Baltics and needs to go because the family, he’s gonna stay 14 days in quarantine.”
Once the flights do return, Gauss says that they will be “full, full, full.” The airline currently plans to operate its first flight to London since its shut down on June 30th. Of course, this will entirely depend on the development of the pandemic in the meantime. However, there is hope that by this date, the UK will have significantly altered its quarantine policy, meaning that it wouldn’t apply then.
Would you quarantine for 14-days to see your family after four months? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!