Airlines including Ryanair, Easyjet and the owner or British Airways launched legal action against the government over its travel curbs today.
The group of businesses, which also includes Stansted airport owner MAG is challenging ministers to be more transparent over how they decide which destinations are classed under the travel traffic light system.
The litigation, led by Manchester Airports Group (MAG), with backing from the airlines is going ahead despite plans announced by the government yesterday to allow more travel.
“British consumers need to understand how decisions are made so they can confidently plan their travel, which is why we are asking the government to provide the data and advice that is underpinning its decision making,” the chief executives of the five companies involved said in a statement.
The UK said fully-vaccinated British residents returning from medium-risk countries will no longer have to quarantine on arrival home from 19 July, opening up travel for the 65% of adults who have had two jabs and those aged under 18.
On top of that, transport secretary Grant Shapps today said non-UK residents who are fully vaccinated will be allowed into the UK without self-isolating “in the coming weeks”.
But travel companies say it is still not clear how the government makes decisions about rating destinations under its traffic light system where low risk is green, medium risk is amber and high risk is red.
Despite the coming rule change, the complainants want the legal action to force a wider re-opening of travel.
There are just a handful of green destinations, many of them smaller islands. All the big destinations like mainland Spain, Greece, France and the US are amber.
That means that even after 19 July, travel will remain restricted and demand dampened, because those who have not had two vaccine doses, as well as non-UK residents wanting to come to Britain will face quarantine.
Sixteen months of travel restrictions have put all airlines and airports under severe financial strain, and they say a fuller re-opening is required to help their recovery and sustain millions of jobs.
Their case against the transport minister Shapps was heard at London’s High Court today.
The Department for Transport spokesperson said its traffic light system cautiously managed the risk of new variants, adding: “We cannot comment on legal proceedings.”