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British holidaymakers have been warned airlines could no longer fly in 12-months time unless the Government outlines a rescue plan to limit the impact of the coronavirus. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye insisted the aviation industry could suffer devastating consequences and lead to “millions” of redundancies. Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Holland Kaye said: “We are very well-funded, so we can survive with no passengers for the next 12 months. It’s a very good position to be in.
“But by the time 12 months have passed there may not be any airlines who can still fly, there may be no businesses who have tried to travel.
“We need to start planning how we’re going to rebuild the UK economy as we come out of this crisis.
“We need to avoid a health epidemic becoming an unemployment epidemic.”
The Heathrow Airport CEO also warned lack of preparation to relaunch the aviation industry could precipitate other industries into further struggle because of the key role air travel plays in trade.
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Mr Holland-Kaye continued: “This is not just about people going on holiday, important though that is.
“Aviation is the lifeblood of the economy – passenger planes from Heathrow carry 40 percent of all the UK’s exports and without those flights, exports will not be able to get to their export markets.
“Nor would the supply chain be able to come in and support our manufacturers. This is essential for the UK economy.
“If we want to get the economy off the ground, we need to get planes from Heathrow off the ground as well. This is about protecting millions of jobs across the UK.”
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Most airlines have been grounded since March in a bid to help health officials contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But many companies such as EasyJet and British Airways have already announced they have to reduce staff, with the low-cost company confirming on Thursday they would axe 30 percent of employees to survive.
Airlines have announced plans to resume services between mid-June and the start of July but industry leaders have lamented the Government’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he felt the mandatory quarantine period was “ineffective and unimplementable”.
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Mr O’Leary said: “Requiring international arrivals to quarantine only after they have used multiple public transport providers to get from the airport to their ultimate destination has no basis in science or medicine.”
The Ryanair CEO also forecast passenger numbers will return to 2019 levels by next summer as he urged unions across Europe to consider pay cuts so that the airline could make fewer staff cuts and retain capacity for the future.
Mr O’Leary added: “I would be hopeful that the 3,000 figure would be significantly lower because of the progress that we are making on reasonable pay cuts across Europe.”
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