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Sean Doyle gives his first speech as British Airways CEO, whilst Grant Shapps talks about quarantine

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Sean Doyle has been CEO of British Airways for a week now. Yesterday, he gave his first public appearance in the role as the opening airline keynote speaker at the Airlines 2050 aviation summit.

If you were expecting announcements of radical changes at British Airways you’ll be disappointed.

In the 5-minute speech, Sean doubled down on the rhetoric we’ve been hearing from British Airways and Alex Cruz in previous months outlining the existential threat faced by airlines:

Sean Doyle British Airways CEO speech

“My absolute priority is our emergence from the worst crisis in the industry […] we all need to work together right now to revive our industry.”

Quoting the recent IATA analysis of coronavirus transmission on aircraft which we wrote about here, Sean said that BA does “not believe quarantine is the solution,” and called for a “fundamental rethink” and the introduction of a “rapid pre-departure testing regime”.

He also slammed the Government’s response, saying that BA was “not getting any support or action and we are not hearing from governments what they’re thinking”.

Sean didn’t take the opportunity to announce any changes at BA, saying that “everything else [other than Covid-19] is for another day”.

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps hopeful to have testing in place by December

Grant Shapps was also a speaker at Airlines 2050 yesterday.

Grant Shapps said he was “hopeful” to have a testing regime in place by 1st December for incoming passengers. The only caveat for having testing in place for December is for “private sector provision”.

Grant re-iterated the Government’s committent to a single test seven days after arrival as the optimum solution, which is now being implemented by the Global Travel Task Force.

A dual test – one on day zero and one at a later stage – was mooted by Shapps. “We know we don’t need two tests – I saw a lot of people calling for two tests – we don’t require two tests. What we need is a period of isolation and then a single test. That means it’s going to be cheaper.”

The problem with a single test on arrival is that it would only be able to pick up 7% of asymptomatic carriers.

He also stressed the need to know exactly who has been tested – “that probably means testing in person or an absolute guarantee on who has taken that test.” Presumably, the Government is concerned about people gaming the system.

Tests will come from private capacity and will be user-paid for. Shapps said that Public Health England would establish a minimum sensitivity and accuracy for any test but that the private sector would be able to select the tests it wanted to use.

It’s not clear why this is taking so long and what is stopping the Government making these changes today for arrivals. There is no reason why the Government could not bring in this change tomorrow.

A bigger question is whether it would make a difference. Given that a test will take 2-3 days to come back, you are still looking at 9-10 days of quarantine. Cutting just 4-5 days off the current two weeks is unlikely to make a big difference to international travel. Allowing a test to be taken on Day 5, allowing quarantine to end on Day 7 or Day 8, is probably the limit of what would be required to get people travelling.

Comments (85)

  • Michael C says:

    “Allowing a test to be taken on Day 5, allowing quarantine to end on Day 7 or Day 8, is probably the limit of what would be required to get people travelling”

    That’s certainly the condition I’ve imposed on my m-in-law coming for Xmas/N Year! 15 days only in the house? No thanks…

  • BJ says:

    They both need to get their heads out their a***, they need to be talking about lockdown in some shape or form or thousands or even tens of thousands more people are going to die who don’t need too. Seriously doubt the arguments about the economy, letting Covid out of control could potentially be much more damaging to the economy than short term lock downs.

    • Ian M says:

      There’s more to the nations health than just Covid though, and the evidence that lockdowns even work in relation to Covid is weak. The evidence that lockdowns do serious damage to people’s wider health is much more clear. The evidence that lockdowns do extreme damage to the economy is undeniable.

      Lockdowns seem to be an extremely disproportionate measure to tackle the issue.

      • Number9 says:

        We have no hope when the Secretary of State for health doesn’t understand the difference between an airborne virus and a disease contracted by a bite from a mosquito.

      • marcw says:

        Incimpetent Governments do more damage that Covid-19. But we cant get rod off them either.

      • meta says:

        There is absolutely evidence that lockdown works. The problem is what kind of lockdown. I wouldn’t call current tier 2 or even tier 3 a lockdown. I also wouldn’t characterise the one we had in spring as true lockdown.

      • BJ says:

        I get all that but I just feel they are looking for the wrong balance. If the virus runs riot out of control the potential risks to the health service are many – too many patients, too few staff due to sickness and risks to all the supply and support industry and service due to ill health too. That all has knock on effects for wider health, wellbeing and the economy too. Therefore I just think the top priority has to be balancing the spread of the virus in and of itself as opposed to with the wider issues. Restrictions in Scotland have been tighter for longer than elsewhere but there is little evidence that it has been enough. Wales now goes further so let’s see what happens there.

    • memesweeper says:

      … thousands or even tens of thousands more people are going to die who don’t need too

      That depends if an effective vaccine will be available next year. If there is, then lockdowns (and travel bans) will probably slow the spread and save lives. If not, it’s all futile, almost everyone will catch it eventually and the numbers dying will be larger in aggregate (lockdowns kill people too). This is the huge gamble politicians around the globe are taking with the economy and human lives — which is fair enough, that’s the judgement call we elect them to make.

      Very few countries have gone for the nuclear options of accepting and managing the inevitable spread, or total eradication/exclusion. Be sure though, if there’s no vaccine soon, then only these strategies can work. Total eradication in a well-connected democracy like the UK is hard to achieve and would probably require a pivot to a command economy/police state.

    • Stanley says:

      With the average age of a Covid related death reported as over 80, (and 2 years over average UK life expectancy), I cant see how a lockdown will do anything than decimate the economy, and potentially marginally extend the lives of economically inactive elderly people.

      • Number9 says:

        Trouble is the haven’t been honest with the figures, they only seem to be covering their own backsides for the inquiry which will inevitably come and cost millions of pounds to conclude … we could of done things differently lessons will be learned. 🙄

      • ChrisW says:

        I was also very surprised to learn the average covid death age is higher than the UK average life expectancy!

        • Stanley says:

          “Get Covid, live longer, fact”

          • meta says:

            We still don’t exactly what are the long term effects of covid. You can have covid, not even display symptoms or even have any serious problems now. However, 20-30 years down the line you develop some kind of illness that nobody dies from usually, but you die or develop serious illness. It might well turn out that was because you had covid.

          • Stanley says:

            Awful lot of ifs buts and maybes about something happening in 30 years time???!

          • Josh says:

            meta

            Lockdown will solve nothing. This virus will not disappear. Locking down is just prolonging the inevitable. Hong Kong flu continues to circulate as part of the flu strain even now…

      • Jack says:

        That’s what I’m confused by. Average death is 80+ years old, how would that cause economic devastation? Vast majority are retired! If anything, the government would probably love to get the number of people getting a pension down. That’s the reality. OTOH those people tend to vote, and vote Tory, so here we are. In no man’s land.

    • Char Char says:

      The only reason more people would die that need to be is because the health service can’t provide care, as long as healthcare can still be provided then any type of lockdown is just delaying the situation. Lockdowns don’t do anything apart from delay things and cause economic hazards.

  • ChrisW says:

    As you said, reducing a 14 day quarantine down to 10ish days, with the addition of a potentially expensive paid test will do little to help the travel industry through what will be an extremely difficult winter.

    While I rolled the dice on a summer break and hoped the trip would be completed before another change to the quarantine list, I have no plans to travel anywhere abroad for the next 6 months.

  • Chris says:

    Private provision? Guess Dido getting another chunk of public money to throw into a black hole…

  • Dave says:

    I question whether my trip to Bali at the end of March is a little too hasty…. but we shall see

  • TripRep says:

    Speaking of testing…
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/business-54604100

    My Maldives trip next spring might still be possible after all…

  • memesweeper says:

    On a sample size of my family, seven days quarantine is probably four days too much. I suspect any quarantine period is too long for the majority of travellers.

    • meta says:

      Yes, it’s fine now when we work from home, but sooner or later our employers will require us being back in the office. Then anything more than 3 days will be too much.

    • Rob says:

      Given that most people land back on a Saturday, only allowing a test on Day 7 will effectively mean Day 9 (Monday) anyway, with the result on Day 12.

      Land on Saturday, get a test on a Friday, result Sat/Sun, back to work/school Monday is more sensible.

      (Well, ‘sensible’ would be removing quarantine from anyone returning from a lower risk area than the UK but ….)

      • meta says:

        I always try to land on Sunday or the final non-working day (Easter Monday, bank holiday). Why reduce your holiday by one day?😂

        • Crafty says:

          Because most people buy package holidays and/or fixed one-week stays that are Saturday to Saturday.

  • Drew peacock says:

    Just came back from Athens – flew out on the 787 on Friday and back last night .
    I mentioned on Friday but again in club there was a lot of announcements about but no real enforcement of Mask wearing.

    As for Greece it’s self – honestly hardly any social distancing , mask wearing was kind of 50/50 in shops etc – taxi drivers wanted you to wear as they get fined otherwise , getting on ferry’s it was required but once you were on no issue .

    The main question you hear is ‘do I need to wear the mask’ indicating to me at least that nobody really wants to wear them .
    Anyway my point is – Greece has tiny numbers of cases/deaths and people have a lot more freedom – no track and trade at bars , no body coming round chasing you to wear a mask .

    I saw the same in Poland a month or so ago .

    So why are our media pretending that they are representing the people – everyone I speak to has had enough – and we are in a tier 1 area!! Realistically apart from a few keyboard warriors and The Super lefties- nobody cares anymore

    This can’t go in forever . Let’s just accept we will have some cases and some unfortunate deaths – but we need to stop the longer term issues associated with a
    Lockdown and further damage to our economy .

    • r* says:

      This lets just get on with it stuff is such nonsense. What would you plan to do when lets just get on with it means theres 300,000 new cases a day and all of the hospitals are full?

      • Josh says:

        Lockdown just kicks the covid stone further down the road. You’re ignoring the mental health implications of lockdown as well…

        • ChrisW says:

          Suicide rates will be much higher this winter than last winter.

          • Josh says:

            Agreed. A lockdown won’t cure COVID…but a lockdown will cause countless other deaths, not just from suicides but also from health resources being diverted.

    • Number9 says:

      Drew’s entitled to their opinion just as you are Jamie. Excellent debating skills by the way I don’t agree with you so shut up🙄

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