The announcement of further restrictions by the UK government this week, which delay the final lifting of lockdown for a further month to 19th July, have spurred airline bosses from Ryanair and Jet2 to criticise what they consider to be the mismanagement of the country’s reopening following the UK’s successful vaccine rollout programme.

Michael O’Leary

“The UK’s COVID travel policy is a shambles,” Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has reportedly said, maintaining that “the Green List is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower COVID case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on Amber. Meanwhile, UK citizens almost 80 per cent of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face COVID restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.”

Calling for a “pragmatic travel policy” for UK tourism and aviation, the CEO shared his belief that vaccinated UK and EU citizens should be permitted to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine or negative PCR tests. “This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work,” he argued.

Steve Heapy

Meanwhile, Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy welcomes reports that government officials are considering plans to permit vaccinated people to avoid quarantine upon their return from Amber list countries.

“This is very welcome news and should represent a meaningful restart to international travel in the very near future,” the CEO stated, affirming that “the vaccination programme was designed to protect people from Coronavirus so that they can enjoy their freedoms once again. If people have received two doses of the vaccine and are still not allowed to travel overseas to enjoy their holidays, what is the purpose of the vaccination programme? The rollout has been a huge success, so it is time for us all to enjoy the benefits of that.”

Referencing the UK government’s assertion that decisions about international travel are being based on infection rates as well as vaccination rates, he further posits, “if this data is driving these decisions, then we believe that destinations such as Malta, the Balearic Islands and many islands in Greece should be open to holidaymakers from the UK.”

“At present, the UK remains largely grounded and our customers are left to look on with envy whilst the rest of Europe opens up,” he added.

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