British Airways parent company IAG has confirmed today that it has dropped its lawsuit against the UK government. The legal action, which was supported by Ryanair and easyJet, challenged the government’s previous policy, which meant anyone arriving into England would need to isolate for 14 days. This policy is no longer in place.
Airlines are celebrating a win today as the UK government released a full list of countries from which travelers can arrive in the UK without self-isolating for two weeks. The new rules come into effect from July 10th and should encourage an increase in travel demand. Scotland and Wales are yet to confirm if they will take similar action.
Previously British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair had agreed to challenge the 14-day quarantine rule in the courts. The airlines wanted to challenge the science behind the rule, saying that it was a massive blow for the industry’s hopes of recovery. A lawyer for the airlines confirmed that once the government released an official list of countries that no longer require a quarantine period, the lawsuit would become irrelevant.
In a joint statement to Simple Flying, the three airline’s said,
“The blanket quarantine introduced by the UK Government on everyone entering into England was irrational and has seriously damaged the economy and the travel industry. Today’s publication of a list of countries is a first step. We look forward to the publication of the rationale behind the decision making and the continued lifting of the quarantine from safe countries.”
Countries on the list
The airlines were so strongly against the policy because many key tourist destinations were restricted. The argument was that restricting passengers from these areas over the busy summer period would cause significant damage to airlines and holiday companies. Now, the government’s new list includes key tourist destinations such as Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Finland, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The list comprises some 50 countries. However, some key destinations are missing. Anyone traveling from China, the US, Sweden, and Portugal will still be forced to quarantine upon reaching the UK. This will prevent many holidaymakers from these areas choosing the UK as a destination this summer.
Strong summer schedules
The new list will encourage more people to visit the UK and should drive travel demand over the coming months. For some airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair with secure European networks, the inclusion of almost all European countries will mean they have a reasonably healthy summer season.
Ryanair operated over 1,000 flights per day throughout June. It hopes to resume almost 90% of its network over the summer. Frequency is still low, and social distancing may keep demand lower than usual. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said he wanted to transport 4.5 million passengers in July.
EasyJet is in a similar situation with over 500 flights across Europe every day. Its entire fleet was grounded in March. The airline recently resumed flights to Croatia, Germany, France, and Italy. It hopes to have 75% of its 1022 routes in operation by the end of July.
By dropping the legal action, the airlines can get back to focusing on network changes and passengers. None of the airlines is yet seeking damages for lost revenue over the past several weeks while the quarantine rule was in place. It seems unlikely they will do so, given the government’s insistence that the regulation was proportionate and legal. Most airlines, and travelers, want to start looking to the future rather than dwelling on the last difficult few months.
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