Although the travel ban was lifted this week, the UK Government clarified that it only applies to green list countries. EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said that the Government’s restrictions are confusing and extremely frustrating for passengers.
The ban on international travel ended on Monday, May 17 but the Government introduced a traffic light system to categorise countries.
People returning from green list destinations don’t have to quarantine while travellers returning from amber list countries must self isolate for 10 days when they return to the UK.
After the travel list was announced, Prime Minister Boris Johnson underlined that people should not go on holiday to amber list countries.
However, easyJet boss said on BBC Today that “it is absolutely legal to travel to amber list countries.”
He went on: “When this was introduced, there was no indication that you shouldn’t travel to these countries because that’s what the restriction was supposed to do.”
He added that the whole point of the traffic light system was to allow travel to restart again safely.
“It was there to make sure you could do this in a safe way,” he said.
He suggested that the idea of having a traffic light system was to have different levels of restrictions and risks for each country.
Johan Lundgren also said that the new measures are “very confusing” and frustrating for passengers and that testing is very costly.
“We have a huge amount of people that are contacting us to say: ‘Look, can I go? Can’t I go?’
“So it’s been very confusing, and the Government is almost dismantling the system that it set up themselves,” he explained.
He said that by discouraging going on holiday to amber countries, the Government is undermining its own policy.
He pointed out that going to an amber list country is not illegal – even if you are going on holiday.
“It is absolutely legal to travel to amber list countries,” he said.
However, the Government says people shouldn’t do it, which he believes leaves passengers very confused.
Mr Lundgren has called for an extension of the green list in order to include more European countries, like Spain or Italy.
He also called for VAT to be removed from the Covid testing cost when travellers return to the UK.
He said the costs of testing are making it even harder for people who want to go on holiday, which leaves passengers “extremely frustrated”.
Aviation has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic, with easyjet reporting last week a loss of more than £701m.
Mr Lundgren explained that this was “clearly a significant loss, and it’s really down to the travel restrictions we’ve seen across Europe”.
When being asked if customers were still flying to amber countries for leisure despite Government guidance not to do so, he said after thousands of Britons they are indeed seeing that.
“Yes, people are booking flights and they’re going there on holidays.”
Airlines like EasyJet, TUI or British Airways are still selling flights to amber list destinations.
The next traffic light system review will be on June 5, when countries like Spain, Greece or Italy could be added to the green list.