On May 17th, the UK lifted its ban on international leisure travel, replacing it with a ‘traffic light’ system. At present, very few countries are on the UK government’s ‘green list,’ which does not require arrivals to quarantine. Ahead of the list’s next revision, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has appealed to the government to end the quarantine requirement for all EU arrivals into the UK, hoping to be able to welcome more passengers in the summer.
Appeal to remove quarantine for EU arrivals
The UK’s Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, is set to announce his latest revisions to the country’s quarantine-free ‘green list’ on June 3rd. When first announced, it consisted of just 12 territories, with the most accessible for UK travelers being Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, and Portugal. However, Ryanair wants the next revision to see all EU countries placed on the list.
In a statement seen today by Simple Flying, the company called on the government not only to make such additions, but also to alter the testing requirements that still concern green list countries. The carrier cited dropping infection rates, and the success of vaccination efforts against mutations like the Indian variant. Its CEO, Michel O’Leary, stated:
“The highly successful UK vaccine rollout has already enabled hundreds and thousands of British families to book their flights to Portugal this summer, and today we call on Minister Grant Shapps to include all EU countries in the next revision of the UK’s green list so UK holidaymakers can travel restriction-free to the beaches of Spain, Greece, and Italy – all of whom have opened their doors to British visitors this summer.”
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Testing remains an unwelcome cost
Despite green list arrivals not needing to quarantine on their return, regulations dictate that they must still take two coronavirus tests. These must be done two and eight days after returning, and can add high costs to trips abroad, particularly for larger families.
Of course, this somewhat defeats the intention of LCCs such as Ryanair, who aim to democratize air travel by making it as affordable as possible. In certain cases, the tests can end up costing more than the flights themselves. With this in mind, O’Leary added:
“The UK Government must scrap the nonsensical requirement of PCR tests for those returning from low-risk (green) countries. There is no point in setting up a traffic light system if ‘green’ still requires additional measures that significantly add to the cost of a family trip.“
A boom in green list bookings
As we have established, the green list presently consists of relatively few countries. However, those which are on it have seen surges in bookings that Ryanair will hope to see for any new additions to the list. For example, Virgin Atlantic has experienced a 250% increase in bookings made on its services to Tel Aviv in Israel, its only green list destination.
Portugal has also been the subject of a similar boom. For example, Luton-based LCC easyJet is said to have added 105,000 seats to its UK-Portugal routes. Meanwhile, airlines such as TUI have deployed widebodies on these flights to meet demand. This boom was further catalyzed by the recent hosting of football’s UEFA Champions League final in Porto.
What do you make of Ryanair’s appeal for quarantine-free travel between the UK and the EU? Have you flown abroad since the UK’s initial relaxation on May 17th? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.