Aviation sector slams government's ‘green list’ review

The industry has openly criticised the decision to remove Portugal from the green list, with no new countries added to the restriction-free category

Yesterday (May 3), the UK government reviewed its traffic light system which identifies the countries that should be placed under green, amber and red alert depending on the severity of Covid-19 cases in that country.

Last month, Heathrow Airport called upon the government to expand the list of restriction-free destinations ahead of the summer season.  

However, after conducting the review, ministers announced that no new locations would be added to the green list.

MAG Airports
Photo MAG Airports

“We were told the traffic light system would allow people to travel safely, with the right measures in place to manage risk for different countries,” said Charlie Cornish, CEO of MAG. “But it is now clear the government doesn’t trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.”

Cornish continues, reiterating that the industry is now “stuck with a system that is clearly not fit for purpose”.

“The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the Government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We have repeatedly asked for this data, but we are being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.”

Additionally, Portugal was removed from the green list and moved to amber. This alongside the lack of restriction-free countries has put the industry’s recovery into question.

“The removal of Portugal from the green list and no new green countries is another huge blow for people looking forward to seeing family, taking a holiday abroad or travelling for business,” explained Karen Dee, Airport Operators Association chief executive. “Given the success of the UK vaccine rollout, the continuing overly cautious approach to travel will disappoint and puzzle many.

“Summer 2021 is shaping up to be worse than last summer, which was the worst in aviation history. Analysis by IATA has shown that 860,000 jobs of the 1.6m UK jobs in aviation, travel and tourism were lost or sustained only due to government furlough schemes since the pandemic started.”

Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, also expressed his concern for the removal of the South European destination: “With Portuguese rates similar to those in the UK it simply isn’t justified by the science.”

The next international travel review is set to take place on June 28.