Three Europe-based airlines have sued the UK government for its “flawed” plan to quarantine all inbound travellers, saying the move will threaten tourism and the economy.
In a joint statement, British Airways, Easyjet, and Ryanair said that they sued the government to force judges to review a new rule from the British Home Office that required all travellers to self-isolate for two weeks.
Instead, the three were lobbying for the re-adoption of the March 10 policy to limit quarantine measures to only passengers coming from “high-risk” countries.
“This would be the most practical and effective solution and enables civil servants to focus on other, more significant, issues arising from the pandemic while bringing the UK in line with much of Europe which is opening its borders mid-June,” the carriers said.
The alliance argued that the rule “unfairly” punishes inbound passengers from low-risk countries by self-isolating, saying they will be discouraged from coming to the UK even as the lockdown restriction gets lifted.
The government introduced the new policy this week, requiring passengers to fill in a form detailing where they will self-quarantine for two weeks. The new policy was applied to both UK citizens and foreigners, while those who fail to comply will face a penalty.
The UK said the new rule was designed to prevent the resurgence of the outbreak from outside the country, as confirmed cases slowed.
“As the number of infections within the UK drops, we must now manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from elsewhere,” said Home Office chief scientific adviser John Aston in a statement while announcing the new travel measures for arriving passengers.
The quarantine was imposed following a fierce debate on whether or not the move would help slow down the transmission of the virus or simply stamp out any hopes that the tourism market will recover following months of confinement measures.
Industry advocates have suggested the government to create air bridges with countries with low transmission cases, but the UK hesitated.
The virus outbreak has taken a toll on global airlines as the travel market plummeted markedly, with some carriers even filing for bankruptcy and seeking bailouts amid the pandemic’s impact on their revenues.
Some airlines have resorted to reducing thousands of workforce and cutting employees’ salaries to ensure the survival of their companies after the pandemic.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, carriers are forecast to forego $84 billion this year which would be the industry’s worst so far while the recovery was expected to take years.