IAG’s Willie Walsh Condemns UK’s Quarantine Plan

Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group, has called out the UK Government’s planned 14-day quarantine. He spoke about the issue at a Transport Select Committee held by the House of Commons.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Aircraft Graveyard
IAG’s CEO, Willie Walsh, has called out a potential 14-day quarantine period. Photo: Getty Images

While countries around the world have implemented entry restrictions and imposed mandatory quarantine regulations, the British Government has so far been slow to act. Now, the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has called for the implementation of a 14-day quarantine on passengers arriving in the United Kingdom by air. Willie Walsh today called this out.

What did Willie Walsh say?

Willie Walsh was today invited by the Transport Select Committee to discuss the implications of Coronavirus on transport. During the conference call, Walsh commented:

“The announcement yesterday of a 14-day [quarantine] period coming into the UK is definitely going to make it worse. There’s nothing positive in anything that I heard the Prime Minister say yesterday. We had been planning to resume on a pretty significant basis flying in July. I think we’ll have to review that based on what the Prime Minister said yesterday.”

When asked how a 14-day quarantine would affect IAG’s return to operations, Walsh commented:

“I don’t think anybody believed that the UK government would actually implement it if they were serious about getting the economy moving again.”

Willie walsh
Walsh made the comments to the Transport Select Committee today. Photo: Getty Images

What does this mean?

Walsh’s comments make sense. Quarantine periods are effective in ensuring that passengers don’t spread the virus to another country. This is why several states have implemented such policies, such as Germany.

Until now, the UK has not implemented such a policy. Now, British airlines, alongside airlines around Europe, are looking at the resumption of flights. This is as other countries begin to lift their travel restrictions.

However, implementing a quarantine period would be detrimental to the UK airlines’ return to service. Such periods stop all but essential travel. Somebody likely won’t travel for a single business meeting if it means 14-days in quarantine.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Aircraft Graveyard
Many British Airways aircraft could remain grounded should a quarantine period be brought in. Photo: Getty Images

Similarly, many won’t wish to travel for a holiday if it leads to a 14-day quarantine. In the worst case, if there is a quarantine period at both ends, passengers could spend up to a month in quarantine.

Clearly, this isn’t beneficial to the aviation industry at all. Indeed, it seems to be the case that arrivals from France won’t be quarantined, given an agreement between Johnson and the French President.

At the present moment in time, it seems that the idea of a quarantine raises more issues than it answers.

What do you think? Is Walsh right to call out the idea of a 14-day quarantine period? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!