The owners of British Airways, IAG have been joined by Ryanair and easyJet to launch a legal challenge against the government’s “illogical and irrational” quarantine plans for people arriving in the UK.
Critics of the quarantine measure claim the plans are rushed, unworkable and full of loopholes with BA’s parent company labelling them “disproportionate” in a letter delivered to ministers on Friday (June 5) that began the legal action.
“In our view, the Government has failed to identify a valid justification for the blanket nature of the regulations, especially given the extremely severe nature of the self-isolation provisions that apply,” states the pre-action letter – the first stage of a judicial review – co-signed by easyJet and Ryanair.
New 14-day quarantine rules are more restrictive
The airlines state the new quarantine rules are more restrictive and tougher than the existing rules which require people with Covid-19 or its symptoms to self-isolate for seven days.
Under the new rules, people arriving to the UK from tomorrow (Monday) will have to complete an online form 48 hours before arrival, and then complete 14 days of self-isolation.
There are some exemptions for certain occupations such as freight drivers and health and science professionals working on the pandemic, as well as for people arriving from the Common Travel Area which includes the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.
People could face fines of up to £1,000
However, UK citizens arriving back from holidays will have to quarantine for two weeks and failure to comply with the quarantine rules could lead to fines of up to £1,000.
Airports and airlines were not informed about the measures they have to put in place in order to until Friday afternoon – less than 72 hours before the new rules come into force.
The airlines launching legal action argue the new law is a “wholly unjustified and disproportionate restriction on individuals travelling to England (and questionably the UK)”.
IAG boss Willie Walsh said airlines had not been consulted about the new quarantine measures which will severely impact an industry already decimated by the pandemic.
Quarantine has ‘torpedoed’ plans to resume 40% of flights in July
Plans to return to operating 40% of normal flights in July have been “torpedoed” by the new quarantine law, said Walsh warning: “BA burns approximately £20 of cash a day. The situation is not sustainable.”
BA has mortgaged planes to raise £592 million and “tapped the Bank of England’s commercial paper scheme for £300 million”, states the Sunday Times.
The airline is also in a battle with the pilots’ trade union Balpa after threatening to sack and re-hire staff under new contracts.
More than 1,000 pilot positions are at risk under BA’s proposals that threatens a total of 12,000 staff with redundancy.