• Sally Gethin

Airlines fight government on quarantine

Aviation and travel leaders are fighting the quarantine measure imposed on inbound passengers to the UK which starts today. Three of the leading airlines, easyJet, Ryanair, and the IAG (including BA) have launched legal action to challenge the government decision.

The quarantine measure forces passengers to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival into the UK. But many consider to be the measure unenforceable and out of step with the rest of the world.

Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee said “Many of our trading partners and countries around the world are adopting a science-led, more risk-based approach as they exit their own quarantine measures now the crisis is abating."

The industry is looking to bilateral agreements between the UK and other countries to replace the quarantine. These bilateral agreements have also been described as travel corridors, bubbles, or air bridges.

The government has promised to review the quarantine on a rolling basis. This is giving the industry hope that travel corridors could replace the quarantine.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said on June 3rd: “We need to see much more clarity on air bridges over the coming days. The key thing is that they are established as soon as possible alongside the FCO travel advice being changed, and ideally before the review on 29 June. Airlines can’t start up operations overnight and any announcement isn’t going to trigger bookings and flights for several weeks. If Government leave it too late we run the risk of the summer season being over and losing out to other countries who are starting to open up their borders now.”

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has called the quarantine "a political stunt" and "unenforceable".

Once the rules come into place passengers may be fined £100 if they refuse to provide their contact details in England (or £60 in Northern Ireland). They may be fined more if they break this rule more than once. They may be also fined £1,000 if they refuse to self-isolate in England or Northern Ireland, or they could face further action.

However there are exemptions. For example anyone in the Common Travel Area is exempt including passengers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. A full list of exemptions is available here

The government official advice on the quarantine is here

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