Tui, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways join ‘lawsuit’ against government
Tui has announced he is joining Virgin Atlantic and British Airways to support a lawsuit against the UK government’s travel restrictions on coronaviruses.
The UK’s largest tour operator said the three companies had become interested parties in a challenge launched by Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group last week.
The legal offer is an attempt to get the government to be more transparent about how it determines which countries are on the green, amber and red lists under the traffic light system for international travel.
The risk-based system with red, orange and green ratings for different countries, determines the quarantine and coronavirus testing requirements people face upon returning to the UK.
There are currently no major viable tourist destinations on the green list without a quarantine.
Speaking at the Travel Matters conference hosted by the Abta industry association, Tui Managing Director Andrew Flintham said: “At the time of the country’s last review, many destinations such as Malta, the Greek Islands and the Balearics had much lower (infection) rates than Great Britain.
“It was inexplicable why these weren’t added and instead Portugal went straight from green to amber, with no sign of stopping at the much-vaunted green list.
“We need to understand the criteria that we are all working on so that we can anticipate when countries can move to different categories and help our clients meet this challenge, and we need to understand how the framework is being applied.”
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer told the conference that the organization is also looking to determine whether legal action is “a path we can pursue.”
He said: “The barrier to prosecuting the government is high, but we believe that at least the government needs to say whether it has measured the impact of its own policies on the travel industry, and whether it has done so. Did he then decide that the sector nonetheless was not worth supporting?
Mr Tanzer made a “sincere call for political change” regarding restrictions on international travel.
He added: “Clear responsibility for the welfare of the overseas travel industry must be vested in a designated minister.
“Our economic contribution is important. British citizens spend more money in the UK before traveling abroad than international visitors, and the potential for job creation or destruction is enormous.
“I say to the government: put aside all the misconceptions about foreign travel. We are ready to work together, show us that you are.
Last week Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the “stop, go, stop, go approach to travel is crazy.”
He told Sky News: “It’s typical of Boris Johnson’s government, to make these things up as they go.
“There is no green list.
“What we keep asking in the travel industry is that now that 80% of the UK’s adult population is vaccinated, why can’t these people go on holiday to Portugal and Spain without restrictions? They are already vaccinated.
Tory MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the transport select committee, told the summit that the UK had been “slow” in reopening travel.
“We have been the world leaders when it comes to international aviation travel standards, but when it comes to this pandemic, we haven’t,” he said.
“We didn’t play an international lead where we really could have done it in terms of the rules.”