Heathrow boss threatens to sack third of workforce

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THE BOSS of Heathrow airport has warned of making 25,000 job cuts as the Tories’ 14-day quarantine system came into force yesterday morning.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye was asked if he would have to consider the future of a third of his workforce, and replied: ‘That’s exactly the right kind of number.

‘And I don’t want to see that happen. But we’ll have to make that decision within the next couple of weeks.’

Holland-Kaye said airport passenger numbers for most of April, May and June were 5,000 to 7,000 each day.

He said: ‘With the quarantine coming in today, we would expect that to continue until the quarantine is lifted.’

In 2018, an average of 219,458 people were passing through Heathrow each day.

Holland-Kaye said: ‘We have to assume the worst, and all businesses in aviation are suffering, very badly.

‘I heard one airport talk about it being days and not weeks before they face bankruptcy.

‘That’s how bad things have got.’

The Unite union’s national officer Oliver Richardson said: ‘Covid-19 is the greatest challenge the aviation sector has ever faced and the government’s introduction of quarantine further adds to it.

‘This only reinforces the fact that the government has a moral duty to support the aviation industry during this time of crisis, as it has promised to do on numerous occasions.

‘While we are not questioning medically based measures, Unite is supportive of positive measures such as air bridges and effective track and tracing all of which help to generate confidence and will boost a return to flying.

‘The aviation sector is crying out for an integrated plan, a financial support programme to get it back on its feet, and is looking to the government for that leadership.’

Meanwhile, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has said he will not cancel flights despite the government’s new quarantine rules for travellers arriving in the UK, because ‘British people are ignoring this quarantine. They know it’s rubbish.’

O’Leary’s comments come after Ryanair, easyJet and IAG, the owner of British Airways, started legal action against the government in an attempt to overturn new rules requiring all passengers arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days.

Breaking the rules, which are designed to help ‘prevent a second wave of the coronavirus’, is punishable with a £1,000 fine.

The policy is to be reviewed every three weeks and the idea of ‘air bridges’ to popular destinations for holidaymakers such as Portugal has been discussed.

However, O’Leary said thousands of Britons are still booking holidays with Ryanair, which intends to operate almost 1,000 flights a day from 1st July. He added that he has no intention of cancelling flights in the peak months of July and August if the rules are still in place then.