Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary and the Manchester Airports Group are to launch legal action over the UK government’s traffic light system for unlocking international travel today after branding UK government ministers as ‘incompetent’ .
The businesses will challenge Government’s traffic travel light system in the High Court, forcing the government to reveal the data and reasoning which drives their decision making. The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) operates Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airports.
Under current Covid restrictions, the government places countries onto green, amber and red travel lists based on data from case numbers, vaccination rates and presence of Covid variants.
O’Leary: front bench is “incompetent”
In a report in the The Telegraph, O’Leary lunched a scathing attack on the UK’s transport policies: “I’ve never come across a more incompetent f****** front bench of ministers. I have no faith in (Boris) Johnson’s government on any of these issues, having completely mismanaged the original lockdowns last year and the reopening now.”
O’Leary added: “[We are] trying to force the Government to at least either a) be more transparent [over the traffic light system], b) publish what exactly the thresholds are at which international travel … will be allowed to restart. Or c) get some injunctive relief against the Government generally on the back of vaccines that says the longer lockdown is restricting people’s freedom of movement.”
The action has been taken after it was revealed that popular European tourist destinations including Spain, Turkey, Portugal and Greece were ‘unlikely to be added to the green list before August,’ potentially resulting in another lost summer for resorts. UK ambassadors are said to have warned foreign tourism bosses that British travellers were unlikely to return to traditional holiday hot-spots until later this summer.
Travellers can visit countries on the UK’s travel green list without having to quarantine although will still require Covid testing before travel. Those returning from amber list countries, such as Portugal, Spain, Greece and America, will all have to face a mandatory 10-day period of self-isolation and two negative PCR-tests on arrival in the UK.
Call for date to restart international travel
Holiday firm TUI has already announced more cancellations of trips to European holiday destinations due to take place in the next month. Travel companies are calling on the UK government to set a date for the restoration of international travel which they said could be July 31 to stem losses which could run into billions of pounds for the travel industry.
The Telegraph also reported that the government was considering opening up summer holidays abroad for vaccinated Britons under plans being considered by the Government. The proposals are said to be at an early stage and could allow people who have had both Covid jabs to avoid quarantine on their return from amber list countries, although they will still be tested. The change would mean that countries currently on the amber list would be effectively considered as green list destinations for those who had received both vaccinations. The proposals would also open up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US.
The plans are expected to be ready for discussion by the Cabinet’s Covid operations committee ahead of a June 28 deadline by which ministers had already pledged to review the traffic light system. The London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling on the Government to scrap the system to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The EU has announced the widening of its ‘white list’ of destinations to which non-essential travel is permitted to include the US but not the UK. Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Lebanon, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong have been added to the list which also includes Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China.