The parent company of German airline TUI, TUI Group expressed support to other British companies, including Virgin Atlantic and International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), in legal action against the government of the United Kingdom while seeking to ease the now-in-force air travel restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 22, 2021, the Managing Director of TUI Group Andrew Flintham declared that the company supported other British airlines’ legal move to attempt to receive more detailed information on how the government of the UK determines the position of countries in the so-called “traffic light system.” While speaking at the conference, Flintham outlined that British air carriers are concerned over the constantly changing updates in the list dedicated to controlling international air travel.

“At the time of the last country review, many destinations such as Malta, the Greek islands, and the Balearics had much lower rates [of infected people, ed. note]  than the UK. [...] It was inexplicable as to why these were not added and instead Portugal was moved straight from green to amber, without the slightest sign of stopping at the much-vaunted green watchlist,” Flintham was quoted saying by the British media.

“We must understand the criteria we are all working towards so we can pre-empt when countries may move into different categories and help our customers with that challenge, and we must understand how the framework is being applied,” the CEO added, outlining that international travel is highly affected by governmental decisions.

A legal bid to the High Court was filed by the Irish budget airline Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on June 17, 2021. A MAG spokesperson told media that the move was dedicated to seeking clarity over the transparency of the traffic-light system as almost 80% of already-vaccinated UK citizens continue to face the pandemic-related air travel restrictions.

The government of the UK implemented a new traffic-light system on May 17, 2021. The new system was created with the intent to re-open international air travel, with countries falling into the red, amber, or green categories based on the perceived levels of COVID-19 infections. Following the list, the government urged travelers to avoid visiting countries marked in amber and red colors.

Under the rules, after arrival from the amber-listed countries, travelers are required to self-isolate for 10 days. Meanwhile, travelers transiting through destinations added to the red list, are refused entry into the UK. The quarantine-free international operations are allowed only to the countries on the green list.