John Holland-Kaye: Travellers must be 'desperate and wealthy'
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Under the current national lockdown in the UK, holidays are off the cards. However, there is little sign from the Government as to when international travel restrictions will end, causing concern for some in the industry.
Heathrow Airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has warned if Boris Johnson does not lay out plans to lift hotel quarantine and other stringent travel restrictions, travel could be the privilege of the “wealthy and desperate”.
“You have to be desperate and wealthy to fly from next Monday because the cost of all the tests the hotel quarantine, if you’re coming through one of the ‘red countries’, is just so high,” he told Sky News.
“Plus having to quarantine for 10 days and be able to do that for many people is just impossible.
“I don’t think we’ll see many people other than they really essential travel happening from Sunday and these may be the measures that are needed right now, in order to make sure that we don’t get new variants coming into the UK, but it can’t last for long.
“We do need to start getting back to some sense of normality, not just for people’s holidays but to protect people’s businesses and livelihood.”
It comes after Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock admitted summer travel remains “uncertain”.
Heathrow Airport has seen a drop of 90 percent in passenger traffic for January compared with the same time last year.
“In aviation, it feels like you’ve done 17 rounds in the ring and you’re not sure how many more rounds are going to go before the bell,” he said.
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“But as we heard from Matt Hancock earlier, these are very uncertain times.”
It is not just the future of leisure travel which causes concern for industry insiders.
Already Heathrow has seen between 15,000 and 25,000 jobs since the pandemic began, a figure likened to “the size of a small town.”
Mr Holland-Kaye warns further job losses and economic impact is likely if travel can not resume.
“We know that people would like to fly if they could,” he said.
“We know people would like to go in their summer holidays, but aviation is far more than that, particularly at Heathrow.
“We have business people going all over the world.
“We have service sector specialists going all over the world who want to be able to go out and see their customers and do their job, but they’re not able to the moment, our borders are effectively closed.
“So at the moment it does look pretty bleak.
“And until we can see a fly plan from the Prime Minister which I hope we will see on February 22 for how we are going to start to open up borders again safely, then I am afraid I’m afraid the business in aviation can only plan for the worst.
He continued: “We’ve gone for almost a full year with virtually no revenue. “Businesses cannot keep going like that and the only thing they can do is to slash their costs, and unfortunately that often means people lose their jobs.”
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