British Airways considering legal action against new quarantine laws

Chief executive Willie Walsh said that plans to make international visitors self-isolate for two weeks would “torpedo” the aviation and travel sectors.

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British Airways is considering taking legal action against the government’s planned 14-day quarantine measures for people visiting the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that from 8 June, anyone arriving in this country by air, sea or rail, will be advised to use personal transport and to head to their place of accommodation, and once there to not leave for a period of two weeks. Any quarantine breaches, Patel said, could incur a £1,000 fixed penalty notice.

The policy has attracted opposition from the transport and hospitality sectors, with those against it suggesting that it would discourage people from travelling and therefore have a massive impact on their businesses.

Speaking to Sky News on Friday, British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh called the policy “irrational” and “disproportionate”. He added: “We are giving consideration to a legal challenge to this legislation.”

Walsh said that the introduction of these stringent quarantine measures would “torpedo” the chances of the aviation sector getting back to normal. And he described the coronavirus pandemic as “the most difficult challenge that the airline industry has faced”.

BA had planned, Walsh noted, to put on services of up to 40 per cent capacity by July, but suggested that goal would be impossible if this policy came into effect.

Walsh’s comments, though, come shortly after BA boycotted an aviation industry summit of which the Home Secretary was in attendance. A spokesperson for the government told The Telegraph: “It’s a shame that BA don’t want to directly make their case… Clearly they are not serious about working to get Britain moving again.”

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman

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