British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair are pushing ahead with legal action against the UK government over the introduction of its two-week quarantine period on travellers entering Britain.
The group filed the legal papers on Thursday evening at the High Court, just days after the new quarantine rules came into effect. They have asked for their judicial review to be heard as soon as possible.
The trio of airlines on Friday said they had launched their action against the government’s “flawed quarantine”, which they claim will have a “devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy” as well as destroying thousands of jobs.
There was so far no “evidence on how and when proposed ‘air bridges’ between the UK and other countries will be implemented”, the airlines said in a statement.
The group wants the government to readopt its previous quarantine policy introduced on March 10, where the restrictions were limited to passengers from “high risk” countries. This would be the “most practical and effective solution” and would bring the UK in line with much of Europe which is opening its borders in the middle of this month, the carriers said.
The three airlines said in a pre-action letter sent to the government last week that ministers acted unlawfully by imposing the restrictions. The move was “disproportionate” and unfair towards foreign nationals and UK citizens, and would destroy attempts to rebuild their businesses.
It pointed out that the policy went far beyond the restrictions imposed during the first phase of lockdown in the UK and was more stringent than the guidelines applied to people who have Covid-19.
The move comes as airlines have started to make a tentative return to flying after the majority of fleets globally were grounded in late March following widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions.
In April, global air travel hit a low point, with passenger levels about 95 per cent below 2019 levels. Earlier this week, Iata, the global airline trade body, warned that the sector was facing a record loss of $84.3bn this year as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic made 2020 as “the worst year in the history of aviation”.