UK Airlines Unhappy With Traffic Light International Travel Plan

UK Airlines are today criticizing new government guidance issued to attempt to restart international travel. The new traffic light system will see every passenger having to take at least one costly private PRC test, despite their COVID status and country of origin.

UK, International Travel, Traffic Light
British Airlines are criticizing the UK government’s new international travel traffic light plan. Photo: Getty Images

The UK currently has some of the strictest entry requirements going. Holidays are presently banned, while every single arrival is currently required to quarantine with few exceptions. However, the government is being accused of missing the mark with the new plan to ease some of these restrictions announced earlier today.

What is the new system?

This morning the UK government outlined a “framework to chart the safe return of international travel”. Transport Minister Grant Shapps revealed the new scheme. Instead of the two-category system currently in use, the government will move to a three-category system modeled on the colors of a traffic light.

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So-called ‘green’ nations will be those assessed to have the lowest risk of importing COVID-19 variants to the United Kingdom. However, traveling from a green country won’t be free. All passengers traveling to the UK, regardless of origin, will need a pre-departure test. Those arriving from a green country will not need to quarantine. However, they will still need to take a PCR test within two days of arrival, setting them back £105.

British Airways, Health Passport, VeriFLY
All arrivals will still need to take two COVID-19 tests. Photo: British Airways

Amber arrivals will see the same restrictions that most currently entering the UK are faced with. Ten days of quarantine and two tests costing £210 on days two and eight. Travelers can end this quarantine after five days with a third negative COVID-19 test.

Finally, red nation arrivals will still be required to quarantine in hotels for ten days, as is currently the case. While we already have a list of red countries from the existing requirements, the UK is yet to announce which countries will be green and amber. However, the government is still to confirm whether non-essential international travel can even resume on May 17th.

Unhappy airlines

However, airlines aren’t happy with the government’s new proposal. Commenting on the new plans, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said,

“This does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by Ministers, and the insistence on expensive and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing – even for low-risk countries – will pose an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unviable and unaffordable for many people.”

UK, International Travel, Traffic Light
Green country arrivals will not be required to quarantine at all. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Brian Strutton, the General Secretary of the BALPA pilots union, called the plans “a total disaster”. He added,

“It is clear that under this plan airlines are not going to be able to recover during this summer season and will have to wait for summer 2022 for significant leisure travel to resume.”

Jet2 cancels flights

UK leisure carrier Jet2 didn’t beat around the bush when it came to responding to this morning’s travel plan. The airline has canceled all flights and holidays up to and including June 23rd. The airline cited the continued uncertainty from this morning’s plan.

Jet2 initially canceled all flights from the start of April until early July last year. However, it was able to recover its schedule by 50% at the end of July. The airline has grounded its fleet again since the new year.

What do you make of the UK Government’s new travel plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.