Ryanair to sue UK government over traffic-light system

Irish budget air carrier Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group (MAG) are reportedly preparing to sue the UK government over the implementation of the traffic-light system it has put in place for the reopening of international air travel.

Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group (MAG) will file High Court papers on June 17, 2021, to seek clarity over the transparency of the traffic-light system, a MAG spokesperson said in an emailed statement seen by Reuters on June 16, 2021. 

“The UK’s Covid travel policy is a shambles. Meanwhile, UK citizens, almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face Covid restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June,” CEO of Ryanair Group Michael O’Leary said in a statement on June 16, 2021. 

On May 17, 2021, the UK government implemented a new traffic-light system intended to open up international air travel, with countries falling into the red, amber, or green categories based on the perceived degree of COVID-19 risk.

According to the UK government’s official advice, travelers are urged not to visit amber and red list countries. Travelers returning to the UK  from countries on the amber list are required to self-isolate for 10 days, while international travelers that transit through red list countries are refused entry into the UK. The green list exempts travelers from quarantine upon the return to the UK.

To date, there are a total of 50 countries included in the red list, while the amber list contains 177 countries as well as territories, including the United States. The green list, on the other hand, contains only 11 countries. This means that the travel industry in the United Kingdom is currently almost at a standstill with just weeks before the peak summer travel season when most profits are made.

“The Green List is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower Covid case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on Amber,” O’Leary said.

“UK tourism and aviation needs a pragmatic travel policy, which permits vaccinated UK and EU citizens to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine. This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work,” O’Leary added. 


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