Strict health screenings could mean only ‘low risk’ passengers allowed to fly

Heathrow Airport’s Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye has suggested that standardised health checks at flight hubs around the world are key in helping air travel return. The airport boss has called for the UK government to work in partnership with other governments around the world to devise a standard health check which will give passengers the “confidence” to fly again.

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He also says that the return of air travel will be crucial, not only to the air industry but to the UK economy as a whole.

“Unless we get people flying again we can’t get the UK economy moving again because the UK’s exports, and also because they come in through a supply chain, come on passenger planes through Heathrow,” Mr Holland-Kaye said on BBC News on Friday morning.

He suggests that in order to stimulate air traffic, only “low risk” passengers should be allowed to fly.

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The airport hopes that they can implement “package measures” to ensure the health of travellers entering and leaving the country.

Mr Holland-Kaye explained: “We’ll see fantastic hygiene as you’re going through the airport.

“We’ll see less contact between passengers and colleagues.

“We are going to see, I think, some health screening coming in.

“We have already got health screening for some destinations where people are having their temperatures tested.

“I think that might become the standard perhaps as you come into the airport so that we know anybody else in the airport is a very low-risk passenger.”

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He also emphasised how important it is that these measures are mirrored in airports around the world.

“This has to be a set of measures that are not just agreed as being fit for travel in the UK, it’s accepted by passengers as being safe, it has to be standard in all countries so that people know that if you are arriving from the UK that you don’t need to go into quarantine because you have been well looked after,” he said.

What the health checks will look like is not yet known, though there is some speculation around temperature checks and how useful they really are.

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“When you go to China, they have had temperature checks as you travel through the airport for years since the SARS crisis,” said Mr Holland-Kaye.

“I don’t know whether temperature checks is the right answer or not, but that is something we need to work on with this government and with other governments.”

The airport boss did point out, though, that social distancing measures are “impractical”, not just in airports but in any form of public transport.

If adequate health screenings were put in place for passengers at airports, he says that seat costs can stay relatively low due to “normal seat capacity”.

However, if social distancing becomes the norm, he anticipated sky-rocketing ticket prices and fewer flights.

“If only the wealthy are able to fly then we will see a much smaller aviation industry,” he said.

It isn’t just about the return of holidays, however, Mr Holland-Kaye says the need for flights to take off again is far more crucial for the country as a whole.

“Customers arriving from other countries coming into the UK can travel safely and get on their way and spend money here that we need them to spend,” he said.

“Think of all the tourists and the students that we will need to come into the UK that we will need to help fill our restaurants and hotels and universities.

“Also all of those factories that rely on good travelling through Heathrow to keep themselves going.

“We want to get the UK economy firing on all cylinders, we need Heathrow to be flying again.”

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