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Heathrow CEO endorses ‘air bridges’ and quarantine to get people flying again

Image credit: Tony Hisgett

Heathrow Airport’s CEO has endorsed proposals to enforce quarantines on people flying into the UK as a way to get the airline industry back up and running while minimising coronavirus risk to passengers.

John Holland-Kaye backed the idea of 'air bridges' between countries with low levels of infection as a way to boost the tourism sector.

But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he admitted that the Government has a “a tough job to do”.

He said: “If they think that quarantine is the right thing to do I think we have to go with that, but it has to be time-limited and we have to plan for what comes next.

“The idea of air bridges … is a very sensible way of doing that.

“There is no perfect way to make sure only healthy people fly at this stage, so we have to take a risk-based approach.

“As the level of transmission comes down in this country and in other countries, we need to find a way that the vast, vast, vast majority of people who don’t have a disease can still fly.”

His comments come as low-cost airline EasyJet announced plans to restart a small number of flights on 15 June, becoming the latest airline to plan for the return of European travel by making face masks mandatory onboard.

The beleaguered airline has struggled to stay afloat since its planes were grounded at the end of March, leading it to delay the delivery of 24 new aircraft from Airbus worth £4.5bn.

The low-cost carrier announced that its initial schedule will involve mainly domestic flights in the UK and France but passengers and crew will be required to wear masks in airports and on aircraft to minimise risk.

There will be no food sold during flights, enhanced cleaning of planes, and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser made available to passengers.

Further routes will be confirmed “over the coming weeks” as demand increases and coronavirus lockdown measures across Europe are relaxed, the airline said.

UK airports to be served by easyJet from 15 June include Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Belfast.

The only international route from the UK will be between Gatwick and Nice, France.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously warned that foreign summer holidays were unlikely this year, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday that domestic holidays could be possible by the beginning of July, if the rate of coronavirus infection was kept down.

Heathrow began using camera detection systems on Thursday in a trial to monitor the temperatures of many people moving through the airport.

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