New British Airways’ Chief First Statement: End the COVID-19 Quarantine


The new chief executive of British Airways is wasting no time getting his opinions heard on the current COVID-19 restrictions in Great Britain. Speaking at a FlightGlobal event, Sean Doyle called on the U.K. government to end the 14-day quarantine mandate and start pre-flight testing options.

With his first public statement, the new chief executive and chairman of British Airways is demanding the United Kingdom government end the quarantine restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at the FlightGlobal Airlines 2050: Beyond the Crisis event, Sean Doyle demanded that borders be opened up and airlines be allowed to test flyers prior to travel.

Best Way to Protect Flyers is Through a “Reliable and Affordable Test”

During his keynote speech, Doyle cited previously-available studies suggesting there has only been 44 known cases of COVID-19 transmitted from air travel. Noting many of today’s industry standards, including face covering policies and cabin air continually recycled through HEPA filters, he compared an aircraft cabin conditions similar to “hospital operating theatre standards.”

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we are taking every safety measure to keep our customers safe,” Doyle said at the podium. “This is a multi-faceted approach and includes minimizing contact, sanitizing 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 regards to the continued 14-day quarantine requirement for all foreign travelers entering the United Kingdom, Doyle reaffirmed the airline’s position that it is ineffective and only discourages travel. Instead, he is joining the many voices calling for a pre-flight test protocol.

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

Pre-flight testing is currently in the trial phase for U.S.-based flyers who want to travel to Hawaii and bypass the 14-day quarantine requirement. American Airlines and United Airlines are both offering testing to get around the isolation mandate, while JetBlue is offering an at-home COVID-19 test to all interested passengers.

Doyle Replaced Alex Cruz at Podium After Abrupt Internal Changes

The speech marks Doyle’s first public address as the leader of International Airlines Group’s flagship carrier. Earlier in October 2020, he abruptly replaced Alex Cruz, who exited the role but maintains a non-executive seat on the carrier’s board.

That switch was preceded by the transition of longtime group executive Willie Walsh, who was replaced by Vueling chief executive Luis Gallego. The move was planned to happen at the beginning of 2020, prior to the COVId-19 outbreak and pandemic.

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