Friday 5 June 2020 3:02 pm

British Airways-owner mulls quarantine legal challenge

The owner of British Airways is mulling a legal challenge against the government’s quarantine plan which will require passengers coming in from overseas to isolate for 14 days on landing in the UK.

With planes grounded since March, airline bosses fear the quarantine rule which is set to be introduced from 8 June will sink any potential recovery.

Read more: DEBATE: Should the government rethink its quarantine rules?

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive said the company was consulting its lawyers today over a potential legal challenge to the new legislation.

Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary has described the plan as “useless and ineffective” and a threat to the broader tourism industry, while Walsh said it would torpedo any return to flying in July.

“I wrote to MPs last night to say this initiative has in effect torpedoed our opportunity to get flying in July. We think its irrational, we think its disproportionate and we are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation. We are reviewing that with the lawyers later on today. I suspect there are other airlines who are doing so, because it’s important to point out there was no consultation with the industry prior to enacting this legislation and we do believe it is an irrational piece of legislation,” Walsh told Sky News today.

Read more: MPs slam British Airways’ use of furlough amid 12,000 job cuts

The UK’s largest airlines, BA, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, have between them announced almost 20,000 job cuts to prepare for a smaller travel market post-pandemic.

“In May we flew a total fo 485 passenger flights, 485 in a month. We did that by lunchtime on 1 May last year. So this is the most difficult challenge the airline industry has ever faced. It’s unprecedented. And we need to take action to ensure that all of the airlines in the group and everybody in the industry is taking action to ensure that we can survive this and to ensure we have a competitive business for the future,” Walsh told Sky News.

The plan has been criticised by bosses from tourism, hospitality and leisure industries, and by some of the government’s own MPs who question why it is being brought in now when infection levels across many European countries are much lower than they were months ago.