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New British Airways CEO Urges Pre-departure Testing

In his first public appearance since his appointment, Doyle said “we do not believe quarantine is the solution”

October 19, 2020

British Airways’ newly-appointed chief executive officer Sean Doyle has called on the British government to scrap quarantine restrictions and use preflight testing instead as “the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying.”

Doyle, who took over as BA’s chief executive last week replacing Alex Cruz, delivered his remarks during a keynote address at the virtual Airlines 2050 Forum. Doyle said the carrier’s position is that “we do not believe quarantine is the solution.”

He said the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying. “We need a fundamental rethink,” said Doyle, who assumed his position just a week ago. “Preflight testing lets our passengers know that the chance of traveling in close proximity to somebody who is infected is low.”

Doyle also highlighted recent analysis from the International Air Transport Association which found there was a low risk of catching COVID-19 inflight. The IATA findings coincided with the release of a study from the US Department of Defense which concluded the risk of COVID-19 exposure on aircraft ‘extremely unlikely’ when passengers are wearing masks.

“The safety of its customers and crew is always our priority, and we are taking every safety measure to keep our customers safe,” said Doyle. “This is a multi-faceted approach and includes minimizing contact, sanitizing our aircraft from nose to tail and asking customers and crew to wear face masks at all times, unless they have a medical exemption.”

However, speaking at the same conference, transport minister Grant Shapps said that the country’s chief medical officer has made clear that UK medical authorities have agreed pre-flight testing would not catch a sufficient number of travelers who are asymptomatically carrying the virus.

A Day Zero test, Shapps said, could allow a significant number of people to wrongly believe they are not bringing COVID-19 back into the country.

The full video of Doyle’s keynote address can be seen here.