British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair criticise UK quarantine measure

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British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair have criticised the UK government’s decision to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine on international travellers, calling it “unfair” and “disproportionate.”UK nationals and international passengers travelling in the country from Monday — whether by plane, ferry or train — will have to fill out a form before their arrival, detailing an address where they will isolate themselves for the next 14 days. Failure to do so or provide accurate information could result in a fine of up to 1,000 euros ($1,270).

However, the measure has drawn some criticism, most of them vocally from airlines who fear that quarantine will put people off from traveling at a time when businesses are already facing serious financial difficulties.

British Airways’ parent company, IAG, along with Easyjet and Ryanair, wrote to senior government official on Friday and made their case against quarantine. This is the first step in taking legal action against the government.

“The pre-action protocol letter sent on Friday was signed by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair. These measures are disproportionate and unfair to British citizens as well as to international visitors arriving in the UK,” a spokesman for the three airlines said in a statement on Sunday.

“We are challenging the UK government on a number of flawed measures,” said the spokesperson, arguing that quarantine is “stricter than the guidelines applied to people who actually have Covid-19.”

There are a few exceptions to the quarantine rule. Workers living in another country but travelling to the UK at least once a week, as well as people who live in the UK but work elsewhere, will not be asked to isolate themselves.

In addition, international seasonal workers and people arriving from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will also not be invited to isolate themselves.

“We urge the UK government to remove this inefficient quarantine of visitors that will have a devastating effect on the UK tourism industry and destroy (even more) thousands of jobs in this unprecedented crisis,” the spokesman added.The UK government has argued that quarantine is needed to contain a second potential wave of Covid-19 infections, although it has been criticised for not introducing such measures earlier.

The strict travel restrictions and blockades imposed across Europe in March have put unprecedented pressure on airlines. However, they hope that countries will begin to reopen their borders before the peak summer season, tourists will help get business back on track.

IAG shares have fallen 48% since the beginning of the year. Ryanair has fallen 10% in the same period and Easyjet are down 37%.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said on Monday that the quarantine would put many European tourists to visit the UK. He added that flights abroad from the UK are “complete” as British tourists are “unaware of this quarantine,” according to Reuters.

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