A coalition of more than 500 travel firms says they are watching British Airways’ threat of legal action over the UK’s quarantine on arrival policy "with keen interest".
Red Savannah chief executive and "quash quarantine" campaign leader George Morgan-Grenville told TTG on Monday (8 June) the group was "taking soundings" from members ahead of its next move.
It is believed options could include a judicial review, challenging the 14-day self-isolation on arrival policy which came into force at 12.01am on Monday.
Campaign backers include Abercrombie & Kent, Club Med UK, Mark Warner and Kuoni, and represent more than £10 billion in annual sales.
“There are more holes than in a sieve in this unworkable, poorly-thought through and economically damaging government policy," said Morgan-Grenville.
"The government has rushed through these measures, with no scientific evidence supported by its Sage advisory group and no consultation with the travel companies that matter.
"We are taking soundings and discussing our next move. We are watching the BA legal action with keen interest.”
It comes after British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair joined forces at the weekend to issue a pre-action protocol letter to the government calling for the quarantine policy to be scrapped, claiming it would have a "devastating effect" on the UK’s already embattled travel and tourism industry.
Various national press reports suggest a legal challenge could be laid on Monday, although it is unclear which group would be in a position to do so first.
The government’s policy requires all arrivals, by air, sea and rail, to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival to guard against a second wave of coronavirus infection.
It was set out by home secretary Priti Patel last week and will be reviewed on a three-weekly basis. The travel sector has been largely united in its condemnation of the measures, and has called instead for quarantine to be replaced with air bridges or safe travel corridors with countries with lower rates of coronavirus infect to exempt arrivals, including those returning to the UK, from the self-isolation requirement.
Patel confirmed in the Commons last week the Foreign Office was discussing bilateral air bridge arrangements; several countries are understood to be pursuing the option in an attempt to open up to British tourists this summer, including Portugal and Turkey.
The Advantage Travel Partnership and Scottish Passengers Agents’ Association last week sent the government an air bridge "wish list" to restore some outbound tourism activity this summer. Spain tops the list, followed by Greece and Turkey.
A survey of more than 120 quash quarantine backers found nearly every respondent felt quarantine would wipe out summer 2020 business; 71%, meanwhile, said they expected to make nearly two-thirds of their workforce redundant if quarantine is prolonged, while 28% said they may have to fold altogether.
The campaign, supported independently by Advantage, the SPAA and others, is also calling for the Foreign Office to lift its ban on all non-essential travel worldwide to stimulate travel demand.