Aer Lingus parent mulls legal challenge to quarantine rules

IAG chief Willie Walsh said there had been no consultation with the industry on move

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh. ‘I wrote to MPs last night to say this initiative has in effect torpedoed our opportunity to get flying in July,’ he says. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh. ‘I wrote to MPs last night to say this initiative has in effect torpedoed our opportunity to get flying in July,’ he says. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The owner of Aer Lingus and British Airways is considering launching a legal challenge against the UK’s looming quarantine plan, its chief executive Willie Walsh said, warning that the new rules would torpedo its return to flying in July.

Mr Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, told Sky News on Friday there had been no consultation with the industry prior to the rule change, and he was reviewing possible action with lawyers.

“I wrote to MPs last night to say this initiative has in effect torpedoed our opportunity to get flying in July,” Mr Walsh said.

“We think it is irrational, we think it is disproportionate and we are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation.”

Mr Walsh added that he expected other airlines to follow suit.

The quarantine rule states that from June 8th, those arriving in Britain from abroad need to stay at home for 14 days, deterring people from booking holidays in a huge setback for the embattled travel industry.

Grounded

British Airways, along with rivals such as Easyjet and Ryanair, had been hoping to resume flights in July after a three-month period where most aircraft have been grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Any legal challenge would be an escalation of the row with ministers after IAG and the head of British Airways declined to attend a meeting with the UK interior minister on Thursday.

British Airways also came under attack from MPs in parliament earlier this week over the 12,000 job cuts it is planning to make. It says it needs to axe staff as the travel market will be smaller after the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Walsh told Sky News that no decisions had been made on the redundancies yet and urged unions to attend consultation meetings over the job cuts.

Separately, Ryanair today has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to scrap Ireland’s “ineffective visitor quarantine” from the end of June.

‘Detained’

For a visitor quarantine to be effective, inbound passengers at ports and airports need to be “detained” at their point of arrival, Ryanair said.

“The Irish Government cannot and will not stop visitors from mixing on public transport or in supermarkets, by which time they could have spread the Covid virus all over the Irish bus or taxi network even before they arrive at their destination address,” it said in a statement.

“Ireland’s visitor quarantine is also defective as it completely excludes visitors from the UK which currently has the highest Covid infection rate in Europe.

“Ryanair asks the Taoiseach why he is delaying the restart of Irish tourism and enforcing useless quarantine measures despite Ireland having one of the best EU records in combating and defeating Covid-19.” – Reuters