The new boss of British Airways has joined industry calls for pre-flight Covid testing to get people flying again.

Newly-appointed chief executive Sean Doyle made the plea in his first public appearance since moving last week from running sister carrier Aer Lingus to replace Alex Cruz.

He confirmed that BA does not believe quarantine is the long-term solution and called for a “fundamental rethink” by government.

“We believe the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying. For the UK this approach reduces the stress on NHS testing systems within the UK and on policing the quarantine system,” Doyle added.

The airline believes the risk to public health of flying is low after Iata suggested that since the start of 2020 there have been as few as 44 cases of Covid-19  linked to flights. Some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled over the same period.

Doyle said: “The safety of its customers and crew is always our priority, and we are taking every safety measure to keep our customers safe.

“This is a multi-faceted approach and includes minimising contact, sanitising our aircraft from nose to tail and asking customers and crew to wear face masks at all times, unless they have a medical exemption.

“ In the cabin, air is completely replaced every 2 to 3 minutes, passing through HEPA filters which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over a 99.9% efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.”

He was giving the keynote address at Airlines 2050: Beyond the Crisis, telling the industry that BA continues to play a crucial part in connecting Britain with the world and is doing everything in its power to emerge from this crisis.