British Airways’ new boss has called for an air corridor between the US and UK to help kick-start a recovery in the battered airline industry.
In his first public engagement since taking over at the IAG subsidiary (LON:IAG) from Alex Cruz last week, Sean Doyle called for the introduction of pre-flight COVID-19 tests and a quarantine free corridor between the two countries.
“We need to work together on a testing pilot so flights can start between London and New York, traditionally one of the busiest airline routes in the world,” Doyle said in an address to the Airlines 2050 online conference and reported by Reuters.
Doyle said. “At the moment we’re not getting any support or action and we’re not hearing from governments what they’re thinking.”
BA is now flying two planes a day between London and New York with just 200 passengers, he said. Normally, it would fly twelve daily.
Speaking to the summit, Doyle said: “We do not believe quarantine is the solution. The best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying.
At the same conference, UK transport minister Grant Shapps said he was trying to get an agreement on a travel corridor between the UK and US but warned he could not say how long that might take.
Shapps added he was hopeful a seven-day ‘test-and-release system’ for arrivals into the UK should be in place by 1 December.
Flybe to return
On a brighter note, bust airline Flybe is poised to take flight again following the acquisition of the brand name and website assets by the US hedge fund Thyme Opco, a Thyme Opco, a group of investors led by Cyrus Capital’s Lucien Farrell and a former shareholder.
Before it collapsed, Flybe operated 40% of regional UK flights and a major user of airports such as Southampton, Exeter Edinburgh.
In a statement, Thyme Opco said: “The airline is not only a well-known UK brand, it was also the largest regional air carrier in the EU, so while we plan to start off smaller than before, we expect to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the UK, and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the country’s economy.”
In order, to resume flying, the Civil Aviation Authority will have to restate Flybe’s licence which includes valuable slots at Heathrow and Manchester airports.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, added:
”The announcement of a new lease of life for Flybe is a shred of good news for the beleaguered aviation sector and the UK economy and seems to have created lift for airline stocks today.
“Although the new operations will start small, they will potentially be a huge boost to areas of the country cut off from the aviation network when Flybe collapsed.
“More than 2,000 jobs were axed when Flybe went into administration, so competition for the positions the company will create will be fierce but a very welcome development for a sector which has been floored by the Covid crisis.