‘Absolutely not’ GMB’s Dr Hilary blasts airlines as flights restarting ‘risks 2nd wave’

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Speaking on ITV Good Morning Britain on Monday, Dr Hilary Jones warned Britons against taking international flights despite aviation chiefs reopening routes. Dr Jones argued air travel was the main reason behind coronavirus becoming a global pandemic and said he would not deem it safe to travel right now. He said: “Air travel is how the virus got from China to other countries in the world and it’s how it got from Italy and Spain particularly to this country. Air travel is what makes a pandemic global, that’s exactly how it travels so fast.

“So I think by kowtowing to the economic needs of the aviation industry and all those people who are involved in the catering for that, and the hospitality for that, we are putting health at risk.

“We’ve seen an upturn in cases in China and in Iran and Latin America and America. We are running the risk of a second spike in the UK.”

He added: “I just think that the air travelling situation is running big risks.

“We’ll sit in together in close proximity breathing the same air, masks or not, tests or not, screening with thermometers temperatures control, really not very effective at all.”

Asked whether he would fly right now, he blasted: “No, I wouldn’t. No. Absolutely not.”

EasyJet’s boss has insisted he would “feel 100 percent safe” on packed planes as the airline restarts operations for the first time in 11 weeks.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren told the PA news agency that the Luton-based carrier took guidance from international regulators to develop an enhanced safety and hygiene regime ahead of its resumption of flights on Monday.

Passengers and crew are required to wear masks, aircraft are regularly deep-cleaned, and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser are being made available.

EasyJet’s first UK flight since it grounded its aircraft on March 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic was from Gatwick to Glasgow, taking off at 7am.

Mr Lundgren said not operating a single flight in nearly three months has been devastating, and the airline is super-excited to return to the skies.

He will travel on his first easyJet flight after the restart on Wednesday.

Asked if he would be anxious about his health if the plane is full, he replied: “I would feel 100 percent safe.

“The recommendations that we’ve implemented have been defined together with international regulators Easa (European Aviation Safety Agency), ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and also our own company’s medical doctors and expertise.”

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The Airbus A321neo – easyJet’s largest aircraft – can seat 235 passengers.

Despite the 14-day quarantine policy and current travel restrictions imposed in the UK, Mr Lundgren said he believed summer holidays will be possible.

He went on: “We would hope and would be really looking forward to restrictions being either lifted, or air bridges put in place where it made sense to do so, allowing UK customers as well as people in the rest of Europe to be able to go on a holiday.”

Air bridges would involve travellers arriving from countries where the risk of being infected by coronavirus is deemed to be low to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days.

EasyJet’s initial schedule involves mainly domestic flying in the UK and France.

The airline will ramp up its operations in the coming weeks.

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