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'Last chance' - Airlines demand UK quarantine alternative by end Sept

Thu, 10th Sep 2020 11:33

By Sarah Young

LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Airlines including British
Airways and easyJet urged the UK government on Thursday
to introduce coronavirus testing as an alternative to quarantine
by the end of the month, in what they described as a "last
chance" to save the industry.

Ministers have said in recent days they are looking at
introducing testing to reduce the current 14-day quarantine rule
for arrivals into Britain from countries with high virus rates,
a rule that has left the travel industry reeling.

But Airlines UK, an industry body representing British
Airways (BA), easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, TUI
, Jet2 and others, said action was needed before
the end of September.

"We urge you to announce and implement a policy on testing
before the end of this month," Airlines UK said in the letter to
the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"The stakes could not be higher. We risk economic ruin
otherwise."

BA-owner IAG on Thursday joined easyJet and Ryanair
in warning that travel demand had weakened lately due to
quarantine rules, dashing airline hopes for a recovery after the
pandemic grounded fleets for months.

In the letter, Airlines UK told Johnson that if he wanted
Britain, currently engaged in emergency Brexit talks, to retain
its international connections, he needed to introduce the
testing regime and other support for the industry before it was
too late.

"You must grasp this last chance to save the aviation
industry, and with it so much prosperity across the UK," the
letter said.

UK-based airlines have already announced or started
consultations on over 30,000 job losses and more could follow at
airports and in related sectors. Further losses are expected in
winter, traditionally the travel industry's weaker season.

Germany and France are already ahead with testing, the
letter warned.

The airlines want the government to give the green light to
a plan that would mean travellers could avoid a 14-day
quarantine if they have a negative virus test at the airport and
again five days later.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mark Potter)

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