Airport social distancing would mean 'kilometer long queue' per plane, airport boss warns

4 May 2020, 05:24 | Updated: 4 May 2020, 05:47

Airport queues would need to be much longer
Airport queues would need to be much longer. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Social distancing at airports would require a kilometre-long queue per plane, according to the chief executive of Heathrow.

The airport boss has warned the UK's major international airports do not have enough space for social distancing to be a solution for safe travel post coronavirus lockdown.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Heathrow's John Holland-Kaye said: "Forget social distancing - it won't work in aviation or any other form of public transport, and the problem is not the plane, it is the lack of space in the airport.

"Just one jumbo jet would require a queue a kilometre long."

Mr Holland-Kaye also called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to quickly find a "common international standard" of alternative solutions that could be installed in time for summer.

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Mandatory health checks for passengers, increased levels of hygiene and compulsory facemasks are among the options floated by Mr Holland-Kaye in order to open the nation's airports as soon as possible and avoid "massive job losses in our sector... (and) many other sectors that depend on us".

"The Prime Minister has talked about restarting the engines of the British economy. We are ready to play our part, but first we need his help to restart the engines of the British aviation fleet," he wrote.

The suggestions come days after Mr Holland-Kaye told the PA news agency that it is "just physically impossible to socially distance with any volume of passengers in an airport".

He added that social distancing on planes would reduce capacities by more than 50% and mean "prices would shoot up".

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