Heathrow Airport's Chief Executive on possible new plan to cut quarantine and allow holiday makers to travel

Heathrow airport's Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye is urging the government to allow testing on people coming into the country so that the quarantine period could be shortened if necessary.

Mr Holland-Kaye's plea comes after Spain was removed off the list of safe countries to travel to during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, holidaymakers returning from Spain now have to quarantine for 14 days.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Mr Holland-Kaye said: "What we’re talking about here is an alternative to quarantine which would allow people coming into the country to take a test and get out of quarantine earlier than otherwise would be the case. We’re working with Swissport and Collinson to provide the first test at the airport and now we need to work with the government to have a second test either five or eight days after people arrive back to make sure they are Covid free which would then allow them to come out of quarantine earlier."

"Only the government can decide whether people can get out of quarantine earlier with a test and that’s why we’re calling on the government to work with us to provide this alternative to a 14-day quarantine which would have been so helpful to people coming back from Spain, but it will also be helpful for people travelling to other countries that are currently considered high risk or they could become high-risk if there’s a second wave in some of the European countries," he added.

Heathrow airport

Believing that it would help get the economy moving again, Mr Holland-Kaye said: "We could have it up and running within a couple of weeks if we have the government’s support that allows people to avoid full quarantine if they test negative of Covid. So this is a fantastic opportunity to work with the government to get the economy moving again."

Following the news that the airport's Q2 revenue fell 85% to £119 million, Mr Holland-Kaye expressed his concern for the aviation sector but stated that safety is the main priority.

"The whole aviation sector has been devastated by Covid and we only want to reopen if we can do so safely so we won’t take any steps which would have a risk of reinfection. What we’ve seen happening since the announcement that Spain would be returning to quarantine is that people have started to switch to other countries such as Greece and Italy where they can still have a sunny holiday and avoid having to go into quarantine afterwards," he said.

"Until we can get aviation flowing again particularly to long haul destinations, then the UK economy is going to be spluttering along at much less than its usual capacity and we’re going to lose millions of jobs here in the country so we’ve got to find a way of aviation working again while keeping the country safe and this kind of testing that we’re talking about could be the key to unlocking that."

Referring to the safety measures that have been put in place at Heathrow airport, Mr Holland-Kaye spoke about the UV robot that uses ultraviolet light to clean areas that can’t easily be got to.

"What we do is map out the area into the robot’s memory. It works its way around the room using UV light and that zaps any kind of bugs to emergency room standards so that makes sure people are kept safe. It’s just one example of the kind of pioneering techniques we’re using to make sure people are absolutely safe on their journey," he explained.