William M. Walsh - CEO of IAG (International Airlines Group)..Taken: 15th December 2016 at IAG Madrid Office. Picture by: Stuart Bailey

MIAMI – As Portugal could be added back to the UK quarantine list, International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh has made dissonant statements about such a decision.

Walsh said that adding back the country to the list would cause “further chaos and hardship” for passengers. A few weeks ago, the government extended the imposed 14-day isolation for both Spain mainland and islands.

According to the UK Transport Secretary, the travel restrictions are constantly being updated as COVID-19 cases rise in other countries.

However, Walsh said that this is an “ever-shifting list” of requirements. He added that the ministers have taken a “chaotic approach to quarantine.” It seems chaotic as the British can travel to some territories, but not to others close to UK borders.

IAG holds British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level as subdidiary airlines.

Major Impact for UK Aviation Industry

For Walsh, the UK has “officially hung up the closed sign.” Thus, “the rubber will truly hit the tarmac” for the UK aviation industry.

According to the CEO, restrictions are holding back economic recovery in the airline sector. Reassuring passengers that flying is safe is key to any rebound.

That is why Walsh urged ministers to introduce a different approach against the COVID-19. He suggested a simple testing regime for flying from region to region or city to city.

Manchester Airport (MAN) Group CEO Charlie Cornish has already said that the government had not taken into consideration the long-term prospects. Any form of recovery, therefore, would be at risk.

In July, IAG decided to retire British Airways entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.
Photo: Joshua Ruppert.

Fast-Changing Situation in Portugal

Chris Sainty, the British Ambassador to Portugal, warned that “things can change quickly.” This rings true as the country could be back on the quarantine list.

In related matters, the UK government had already imposed travel restrictions and mandatory self-isolation for Portugal in July. These applied for the mainland territory and for the islands until August 22.

So far, Sainty has encouraged passengers to only travel if they are content to unexpectedly quarantine if required.

Featured photo: Willie Walsh – CEO of IAG. Photo: Stuart Bailey