Willie Walsh, the chief executive of the parent company that owns British Airways says he is considering a legal challenge against quarantine rules set to be introduced by the UK government on June 8. Walsh said the decision to introduce the rules had been introduced without consultation but his comments came just hours after the airline refused to attend a government meeting with the aviation minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“We think it is irrational, we think it is disproportionate and we are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation,” Walsh told Sky News on Thursday evening. His appearance on the news channel came several hours after other aviation business leaders voiced their concerns directly to the Home Secretary during a telephone conference to discuss the measures.
Government sources confirmed that no one from British Airways or its parent company was present at the meeting.
Patel told Parliament last week that the quarantine rules were now necessary as community transmission in the UK starts to drop. All new arrivals will be expected to self-isolate for 14-days or face a potential fine of £1,000 under the plans. Airline and tourism business leaders say the quarantine rules will further decimate the industry.
British Airways claims the plans will seriously undermine its efforts to resume a “meaningful” flight schedule in July, while Virgin Atlantic says it won’t resume flying until July 20 in the hope that the quarantine rules are lifted by this point. The law will be reviewed every three weeks and could be quietly dropped by this point.
Ryanair has called the quarantine rules “ineffective and completely useless,” and chief executive Michael O’Leary claimed British travellers will largely ignore it in order to go on holiday. “The imposition of this completely defective quarantine in the UK is utterly useless and a total waste of time,” O’Leary said of the rules.
Unions have accused British Airways of hypocrisy after chief executive Alex Cruz criticised worker representatives for refusing to attend consultation meetings over proposals to sack 12,000 employees and radically alter the terms and conditions of those who remain.
“It is really concerning to me that GMB and Unite refuse point blank to join any discussions about mitigating proposed redundancies and the impact of this dreadful virus,” Cruz said in a leaked email he sent to employees hours after Members of Parliament rounded on British Airways for what critics have described as “corporate thuggery” over the redundancy plans.
Both Unite and GMB have repeatedly said they are willing to meet airline leaders to discuss the proposals and start negotiations but that the airline must first remove the legal notice of job losses first. British Airways have refused.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.