July 23, 2021

BA and Virgin support legal challenge over traffic light transparency

British Airway and Virgin Atlantic have thrown their weight behind a legal challenge to force the Government to be transparent about how it categorises countries in its traffic light system.

Court papers filed on Thursday name the two airlines as interested parties in a Judicial Review being led by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Ryanair.

They accuse the Government of not being clear about how it has made decisions about the categorisation of countries as red, amber or green.

The Court papers – in which both the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Transport are named as the Defendants – say the Government has a duty to clearly explain how it makes decisions on categorising countries, and to publish the supporting data, given the “dramatic” impact these decisions have on aviation businesses.

Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO, said: “The whole travel sector recognises the critical importance of protecting public health, and we have facilitated every measure the government has required in response to Covid-19.

“That is why we originally welcomed the Global Travel Taskforce’s traffic light system, which the Government said would be based on a ‘a clear and consistent evidence-based approach to facilitate the safe, sustainable and robust return of international travel.’

“However, recent developments suggest that the Government is now unwilling to open up international travel by putting low risk countries on the green list.

“For most countries, the traffic light seems to be stuck on amber for no obvious reason, despite having prevalence rates much lower than the UK.

“The Government is not being open and we simply cannot understand how it is making decisions that are fundamental to our ability to plan, and to giving customers the confidence to book travel ahead.

“These issues must be resolved urgently – and ahead of the review point later this month – to allow everyone to understand how the system operates, and to create the opportunity for international travel to resume to the fullest extent possible over the summer.”

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