‘UK will be embarrassed’: Ryanair sues Government over traffic light system

Travel list: Govt 'making it up as they go' says Ryanair CEO

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They are suing the Government for the lack of transparency when it comes to deciding which countries qualify for the green list. ​EasyJet, Tui and British Airways group IAG, have backed the case.

Airline Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group are calling for transparency over the decision of which countries move to the “safe” list every three weeks, and have taken legal action against the Government.

They are also demanding a prompt response ahead of the start of the holiday summer peak.

According to Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary, the case will be heard next week.

This comes after Jet2.com, easyjet and MAG criticised ministers for not moving the Balearic to the green list as German holidaymakers are now flooding to the islands.

Jet2 CEO, Steve Heapy, said: “When you take the UK Government’s own criteria for deciding where holidaymakers can travel to, and apply it to the Balearics, we are left bewildered as to why we cannot fly there.”

MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish, said EU countries were taking a more positive approach to resuming international travel.

“Hundreds of thousands of people from places like Germany are travelling freely and safely to low-risk holiday destinations,” he explained.

The move to sue the Government over the traffic light system comes after Michael O’Leary’s harsh attack on the UK’s handling of the situation compared to Europeans.

He said: “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 UK has done remarkably well on vaccine rollout compared to the Europeans.

“But the Europeans have a much better and well-thought-out air travel and tourism recovery from the first of July for vaccinated people.

“And I think [the UK] is going to be embarrassed by the Europeans.”

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Other UK airlines are expected to back the legal action after huge frustration within the aviation industry at the removal of Portugal from the green list.

British Airways, IAG, said it intends to join the case as an “interested party”.

MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish, explained: “The Government is not being open and we simply cannot understand how it is making decisions that are fundamental to our ability to plan, and to giving customers the confidence to book travel ahead.

“These issues must be resolved urgently – and ahead of the review point later this month – to allow everyone to understand how the system operates, and to create the opportunity for international travel to resume to the fullest extent possible over the summer.”

A Government spokesperson told the BBC: “We recognise this is a challenging period for the sector, as we seek to balance the timely reopening of international travel while safeguarding public health and protecting the vaccine rollout.

“We have provided £7 billion to help support for the industry during the pandemic.”

The spokesperson said the Government could not comment on legal proceedings.

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