British Airlines’ Quarantine Challenege Won’t Be Heard Until July

A legal challenge against the United Kingdom’s blanket two-week quarantine for those arriving from overseas won’t be heard until July. The challenge is being launched by a group of airlines, including British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair, as they seek to overturn the blanket policy.

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Three UK airlines have joined forces to seek a judicial review into the UK’s 14-day quarantine period. Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom’s government brought in policy, meaning that most individuals entering the country must enter quarantine for 14-days upon their arrival. These rules are stricter than those applied to individuals who have COVID-19. The move comes as most other European countries are relaxing their quarantine measures.

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The airlines’ legal challenge will be heard in July according to a statement by the group’s lawyers, Blackstone Chambers. On its website, the law firm said:

“The three airlines are challenging the UK 14 day quarantine regulations that came into effect in June. The airlines claim that the regulations are irrational and disproportionate. A hearing has been listed for early July.”

The airline group’s legal challenge is based on four principles. Firstly, the quarantine is more stringent under criminal law, than for those who have the virus. Secondly, there was no consultation or scientific evidence used to guide the policy. Thirdly, if you are a commuting worker, you are exempt from the procedure. Finally, the UK Government is banning people from flying to and from countries with lower infection rates than the UK.

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The airline group’s legal challenge won’t be heard before July. Photo: Getty Images

What will this mean for the quarantine?

The late hearing likely means that it will have little effect on the current quarantine regulations in reality. The rules are due to be reviewed on the 29th of June, before the airline’s filing will be heard. It is expected that on this date, the UK will introduce air bridges upon agreement with selected countries.

These air bridges would allow travelers to travel between the United Kingdom and certain other countries without the need to quarantine for 14 days. Those traveling outside of the air bridges would still need to isolate on arrival in the United Kingdom.

When launching its legal action, the airline group said,

“The airlines have not yet seen any evidence on how and when proposed “air bridges” between the UK and other countries will be implemented. Instead, they want the government to re-adopt its previous quarantine policy introduced on March 10, where quarantine is limited to passengers from “high risk” countries.”

TSA, Passengers, Aviation Recovery
Around the world, more and more airlines are taking to the skies while British aviation has been stunted. Photo: Getty Images

While not the top choice, air bridges would allow airlines to begin to return to some semblance of normality. With the UK quarantine in force, it makes little sense for the airlines to relaunch their full services, as there is a high chance these will be underutilized.

However, earlier this week, airBaltic’s CEO, Martin Gauss, told Simple Flying that he did not see the quarantine rules impacting his airline’s resumption of services to London.

An IAG spokesperson declined to comment when approached by Simple Flying. At the time of writing, both Ryanair and easyJet had not responded to a request for comment.

Do you think that the July hearing is too late? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!