Ryanair, BA and easyJet launch legal action over UK’s quarantine rules

Britain’s three biggest airlines have filed papers in the high court to seek an urgent judicial review of the government’s quarantine laws, which they say are having a devastating effect on tourism and the wider economy. British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair say the rules, which came into effect on Monday and require passengers arriving from abroad to self-isolate at a single address for 14 days, are flawed and will cost thousands of jobs. The airlines sent a letter to the government last week to start their legal challenge, and court proceedings are now in train, as reported by The Guardian.

The alliance of airlines argues that the rule unfairly punishes travelers from countries that have low infection rates. By mandating self-quarantining, they claim travelers will be discouraged from coming to the U.K., even as the country has eased lockdown measures and begins to reopen segments of the economy for the summer. A previous self-isolation rule was in effect in the U.K but only applied to a subset or travelers from countries with a high risk of infection. The new policy applies to all countries with few exceptions, The Washington Post wrote.

The group filed the legal papers on Thursday evening at the High Court, just days after the new quarantine rules came into effect. They have asked for their judicial review to be heard as soon as possible.  Many in the travel industry have called on the government to introduce a system of “air bridges” or “travel corridors”, which would enable people to travel between two countries with similar levels of coronavirus infection without the need to quarantine. Turkey, Greece and Portugal are among the popular holiday destinations that have indicated a willingness to strike such a deal, even though the UK continues to have relatively high coronavirus infection rates, according to The Financial Times.

In a statement, the three airlines said they had not seen any evidence on how and when so-called “air bridges”, allowing quarantine-free travel between the UK and other countries with low infection rates, could be implemented. They have called on the government instead to re-adopt a previous policy, where quarantine was limited to travellers from high risk countries, BBC wrote.

The air industry has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak, which has all but stopped their activities. According to BBC, Mass job cuts are under way:

  • British Airways is proposing to make 12,000 of its 45,000 staff redundant, with more than 1,000 pilot roles at risk
  • Ryanair is set to shed 3,000 jobs – 15% of its workforce – with boss Michael O’Leary saying the planned cuts are “the minimum that we need just to survive the next 12 months”
  • EasyJet has said it will cut up to 30% of its workforce – about 4,500 jobs
  • Virgin Atlantic, which employs 10,000 people, has said it will cut 3,000 jobs
  • Other European airlines cutting back include Germany’s Lufthansa, which on Thursday said it would cut 22,000 jobs.

Ryanair CEO says that carrier won’t cancel flights despite UK’s “rubbish” 14 day quarantine. Read more

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