Rising Covid infection rates have dashed hopes of a relaxation of quarantine restrictions, with a senior industry source conceding “the situation is deteriorating”.
Aviation bosses urged the government to agree a testing trial at Heathrow, with the airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye insisting: “Testing in private labs pre-flight and on arrival would ensure there is no risk of importing Covid.”
A leading airline source told Travel Weekly: “We wouldn’t like to see markets blocked from opening by a trial at Heathrow – we still think some destinations could open. But we’re at the point where anything is better than nothing. A trial might be the only way forward.
“We keep feeding ideas to the government and hope one will stir ministers’ interest. Doing nothing is not an option.” However, the source added: “The background situation makes it increasingly difficult. We all appreciate how challenging it is. The situation is deteriorating – we see that.”
Iata director general Alexandre de Juniac called on Tuesday for “100% testing of all air passengers before departure”, saying: “The results of the restart of travel since June are desperately disappointing. Quarantine measures are killing the industry’s recovery.”
He said testing “will present logistical changes, but we expect to see solutions in the coming weeks. Then it will need governments to agree common standards.”
Willie Walsh, who stepped down as head of British Airways parent IAG this month, hit out at the UK and Irish governments, saying: “The Irish government has taken the most extreme view on restrictions in Europe and you have the UK government introducing, lifting and reintroducing restrictions, causing chaos.
“Politicians have stopped travellers travelling yet it has not done anything to stop coronavirus.”
Walsh insisted: “The one positive is there is a lot of demand. People are comfortable to get on an aircraft. What they’re not comfortable with is quarantine.”
Thailand and Singapore were removed from quarantine restrictions last week, yet neither currently permits tourists without them having to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Slovenia and Guadeloupe were removed from the government’s ‘safe lists’ br transport secretary Grant Shapps, who has said he is considering a two-test regime for travellers.
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