Ryanair has hit out at the UK government’s traffic light system for global travel, describing the meagre green list of destinations as a “red list shambles”.
The airline, Europe’s largest carrier, spoke up amid growing industry anger that holidays abroad are being discouraged at a time when COVID-19 vaccine rates should, they argue, be prompting a reopening of the skies.
They accuse the government of taking a harsh approach compared to many destinations in the EU, though ministers say the caution is justified given the surge in the Delta variant strain.
The removal of Portugal from the UK’s green list earlier this month means people returning from every major viable tourist nation must self-isolate.
All travellers returning from amber locations must take a pre-departure coronavirus test, two post-arrival PCR tests costing around £100, and self-isolate for 10 days.
EasyJet revealed on Tuesday that it had moved aircraft from the UK to Germany in response to the countries’
differing approaches to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary called for a pragmatic approach in a bid to help the sector get back on its feet after unprecedented losses and damage inflicted on the wider economy.
He said: “The UK’s COVID travel policy is a shambles.
“The green list is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower COVID case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on amber.
“Meanwhile, UK citizens, almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face COVID restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.”
He said a vaccine-driven approach would “at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.
“It is time for Boris Johnson to end his gross mismanagement of COVID and the recovery from COVID, and take advantage of the UK’s successful vaccine programme,” he added.