The government’s traffic light regime will be scrutinised in the High Court today (9 July) following a legal challenge led by Manchester Airports Group (MAG).
MAG has called for more transparency around how countries are categorised under the system. Its challenge has been backed by Ryanair, British Airways parent IAG, easyJet and Tui UK and Ireland, among others.
Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Swift will oversee the hearing on Friday morning (9 July).
Lodged several weeks ago, the hearing comes just a day after transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the government would ease quarantine for fully vaccinated amber list arrivals.
However, addressing the House of Commons on Thursday (8 July), Shapps rejected suggestions the system was opaque, stating the methodology behind the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s decision-making was regularly being published on gov.uk.
Shapps said there was a variety of reasons why a country was categorised amber rather than green, and stressed it wasn’t solely based on infection rates. These factors include a country or destination’s genomic sequencing capacity and rate of vaccination.
MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish issued a statement ahead of Friday’s hearing, backed by the bosses of Ryanair, IAG, easyJet and Tui UK and Ireland – Michael O’Leary, Luis Gallego, Johan Lundgren and Andrew Flintham.
Together, the chiefs said they supported measures to protect the health of the travelling public and welcomed the formation of the Global Travel Taskforce, which laid the foundations for a risk-based traffic light system to govern the resumption of international travel.
"However, it remains unclear how the government is taking decisions on country categories, which is in stark contrast to other governments including the US and the EU, who have set out clear parameters for travel," read the statement.
"A survey this week of 2,000 British travellers by easyJet showed 89% think the government’s travel policies and advice have been confusing, while 83% think there is a lack of clarity or transparency on government decision-making in relation to the traffic light system.
"British consumers need to understand how decisions are made so they can confidently plan their travel, which is why we are asking the government to provide the data and advice that is underpinning its decision making."
The bosses added: "We urge the government to take a data-driven and risk management approach to re-open our skies safely. UK aviation supports 1.5 million jobs. Global Britain needs aviation. The government should act now to re-boot the economy and protect jobs."