•  ‘BA, easyJet and Ryanair begin court action over UK quarantine rules’

By Andrew Atkinson

Britain’s three biggest airlines filed papers in the High Court on June 12 (Friday) in a bid for a judicial review of the UK government’s quarantine laws, currently having a 14 days isolation period for people arriving in the country.

With UK flights set to return to and from Spain on July 1, British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair claim the rules, which came into effect on June 8, requiring passengers arriving from abroad to self-isolate at a single address for 14 days, are flawed and will cost thousands of jobs.

The airlines initially sent a letter to the government in the first week of June to start their legal challenge, and court proceedings with a request for a hearing as soon as possible.

Briefings have reportedly taken place that air bridges, allowing travel between the UK and some other European countries could be established by the end of June, the airlines say they have not yet seen any evidence of how and when they would be implemented.

The trio are urging the government to revisit a policy – briefly introduced in March – that targeted passengers entering from high-risk countries for quarantine.

“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,” read a statement.

The airlines’ chief executives have been outspoken in their criticism of the rules. Willie Walsh, the boss of BA’s parent company IAG, has described them as irrational and disproportionate, while Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has said they are nonsense.

In the legal filing, the airlines argue that the rules are more stringent than those applied to people who have Covid-19 and leave their home.

And that there was no consultation on the policy and no scientific evidence provided to support it; that exemptions for commuters undermine the policy, and that the government is seeking to ban travel to and from countries with lower infection rates than the UK.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said the rules are guided by the science and necessary to help prevent a potential second wave of coronavirus.

Most UK passenger flights have been grounded since the end of March, and the carriers say the quarantine rules jeopardise their plans to start increasing holiday flights in July. The government has said the rules will be reviewed on June 29.