Easyjet and Jet2 bosses slam ministers over traffic light travel ‘guessing game’

posted on 27th May 2021 by Eddie Saunders
Easyjet and Jet2 bosses slam ministers over traffic light travel 'guessing game'

By Josh Martin, cityam.com

The CEOs of Easyjet, Jet2, Tui and the owner of Stansted airport have slammed the UK Government for its handling of the return of international holidays via a traffic light system where a country must be on the green list in order to facilitate return travel.

The aviation executives want more countries on the green list as well as fewer restrictions on those arriving home from countries deemed to be safe.

International travel has been legal again since 17 May.

However, only travel to green list destinations, such as Portugal or Gibraltar, can be achieved without the need for several PCR tests when arriving back into the UK – the cost of which for a family can surge into the thousands.

Jet2 boss Stephen Heady said the UK was not cashing in on the dividend of a successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

“Travel has been made safe and the UK Government isn’t taking any recognition of the fact that 60 per cent of the population have had one vaccine, 25 per cent of the population have had two vaccines, hundreds of thousands have had the virus and built up antibodies. There has been no recognition of that at all.

“Either the vaccine works or it doesn’t.

“The Government’s approach is ultra-cautious, which in a continent that is walking out of the crisis we’ve been in, we’re being left behind”.

Almost 62m vaccine doses have been gived out in the UK and Covid-19 infection rates are currently around 25 people per 100,000.

On top of the new rules and regulations that UK holidaymakers and airlines must abide by in this new era, the aviation bosses have been clearly annoyed by the UK Government’s mixed messaging on international travel.

Last week Cabinet ministers first said non-essential trips to amber countries were allowed.

A day later Prime Minister Boris Johnson said only essential journeys should be made to amber destinations such as France and Spain.

Easyjet boss Johan Lundgren decisionmakers needed to communicate with the public in a clearer way.

“Something that is extraordinatrily frustrating for all of us is that there are statements that are being made that are so generalised and quite misleading from decisionmakers. Statements such as ‘travel is dangerous’. Well, it depends in where you travel to or from,” he told an industry panel this morning.

“Clearly, you shouldn’t travel from India… but you can travel in a safe way to Europe, for example”.

Charlie Cornish of Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group said the UK Government has spent a lot of time on the travel industry traffic light system “with limited involvement of the industry”.

“There is no reason why more countries can’t be added to the green list.,” Cornish said, pointing to the Canaries and Balearic islands.

“So the industry will be hugely disappointed if the government don’t get behind the industry. Use the evidence, use the science…and actually add more countries now.

“It’s is about time the UK Government took the lead on this and understood the risk-assessment approach [to restarting international travel],” Cornish added.

“The Government has turned this into a guessing game, ” said the Easyjet boss, “where it’s not lead by the data or the science”.

Lundgren said the UK was not focusing on the Covid-19 metrics that matter.

“You have a number of destinations with lower Covid prevalence, no issues with the variants of concern that you still can’t travel to. That doesn’t make sense.

So we urge the Government to finally come out with what the parameters actually are, so people can plan with some confidence”.

A spokesperson for the DfT said last night:

“We have purposefully taken a cautious approach for our safe and sustainable return to international travel, always prioritising public health.”

“We regularly review the traffic light list and have always been clear that people should expect travel to be different this summer – with longer checks at the borders, as part of tough measures to prevent new strains of the virus entering the country and putting our vaccine rollout at risk.”

An update to the travel traffic light system is due on 7 June.