Airline industry blasts ‘missed opportunity' as France and Germany benefit from limited relaxation of travel rules

travel restrictions, Boris Johnson, Aviation industry, Grant Shapps, Coronavirus, PCR test, Spain, France, Italy, Germany

Travel industry bosses say the summer season has been a failure (PA)

Boris Johnson’s latest review of travel restrictions has been blasted as a “missed opportunity” by the aviation industry, after ministers cleared the way for thousands of British families to visit France quarantine-free this summer but moved only a handful of countries onto the lowest risk category.

And airlines lamented the decision not to ease requirements for expensive PCR coronavirus tests for arrivals in the UK, which has been condemned as a “£100-a-head tax on flights” by the industry.

Ministers were accused of “flip-flopping” on France after reversing their decision last month – branded “nonsensical” by one Conservative MP – to place the whole country in its own “amber-plus” category of heightened restrictions because of a spike in cases of the Beta variant of Covid-19 in faraway island territories La Reunion and Mayotte.

From 4am on Sunday, the whole of mainland France moves onto the amber list, requiring self-isolation at home on return only for unvaccinated adults, while the Indian Ocean islands of La Reunion and Mayotte join the highest-risk red category, with all arrivals going into hotel quarantine.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps moved Germany and six other European countries onto the quarantine-free green list. And he gave a reprieve to popular holiday destinations Spain, Italy and Greece, leaving them on the amber list despite fears they could move onto red, which would have forced a scramble to return home by Brits currently soaking up the Mediterranean sun.

However holiday-makers returning from Spain were urged to take a pre-flight PCR test “as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country”, and the government stressed it would be keeping a close eye on the development of the pandemic in the country.

Following an internal battle in cabinet, a proposed “amber watchlist” of countries which could have been moved onto red status with little or no notice – and which was feared to be likely to include Spain – was ditched.

Alongside Germany and Austria, little-visited European nations Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway were moved onto the green list. And a decline in coronavirus cases allowed India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – including Dubai and Abu Dhabi – to be switched from red to amber.

UK news in pictures

Show all 50
travel restrictions, Boris Johnson, Aviation industry, Grant Shapps, Coronavirus, PCR test, Spain, France, Italy, Germany
travel restrictions, Boris Johnson, Aviation industry, Grant Shapps, Coronavirus, PCR test, Spain, France, Italy, Germany
travel restrictions, Boris Johnson, Aviation industry, Grant Shapps, Coronavirus, PCR test, Spain, France, Italy, Germany
travel restrictions, Boris Johnson, Aviation industry, Grant Shapps, Coronavirus, PCR test, Spain, France, Italy, Germany

Mexico and Georgia head in the opposite direction, joining the red list alongside the likes of Brazil, Pakistan and South Africa as areas posing a significant public health threat because of high infection rates and the presence of known high-risk variants.

And in a mark of ministers’ determination to deter all but the most essential movement from red areas, the cost of the mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine for arrivals will increase from £1,750 to £2,285 from 12 August.

Announcing the changes, Mr Shapps said: “We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.

“While we must continue to be cautious, today’s changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public.”

But the chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, said: “This is another missed opportunity and with the summer season nearing its conclusion means international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for. This puts us at odds with our European neighbours and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the prime minister has spoken of.

“Alongside the continuation of expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped for expansion of the green list – which makes less sense by the day given where we are with the vaccination programme – this is yet another blow to the sector and families desperate to get away, and means the UK continues to open up far slower than the rest of Europe.”

Airlines had been lobbying ministers for fully-vaccinated arrivals from green and red list countries to be allowed to take a low-cost lateral flow antigen test on arrival, rather than the pricey PCR tests which can add more than the cost of a flight to the bill for a family holiday.

Conservative MP Henry Smith, who chairs parliament’s all-party group on the future of aviation, welcomed the expanded green list and the UAE’s move to amber, though he said he would have liked to see “more ambitious” relaxations.

“The fact that France is now a regular amber and we have got rid of this nonsense of Reunion and Mayotte affecting the whole of metropolitan France is a sensible move and very welcome,” said Mr Smith, whose Crawley constituency is home to many Gatwick airport workers.

But he added: “I do feel there is a case to be made that those arriving from green list countries should only require a rapid-turnaround antigen test, which could be backed up with PCR in the unlikely event that it is positive. That would reduce cost and make things more simple and pragmatic for people returning.”

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the extension of the green list is “a positive step forward” but warned that the UK remains “a long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel”.

She called on ministers to provide “a much-needed tailored package of financial support to help our aviation industry through the challenging months ahead”.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said the government had “plunged the summer plans of thousands of families into chaos with their flip-flopping over France”.

He demanded the release of clear infection data backing up decisions, after foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that France’s amber-plus designation was driven by cases 6,000 miles away in La Reunion.

“While we welcome efforts to safely open international travel, ministers must explain to passengers and the industry how they’ve reached these changes with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country,” said Mr McMahon.

“Ministers need to get a grip and set out a proper strategy, provide full data and progress work with global partners on international vaccine passports so travellers and the industry can have clarity instead of reckless U-turns and confusion.”

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out 10 years in power - beating Thatcher's record

Boris Johnson has heightened speculation that he plans to stay in office for 10 years by refusing to categorically rule it out. The Prime Minister batted away questions on his ... Read more »

Pictured: Woman found dead in park near community centre in Greenwich

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A primary school teacher was named today as the victim of a murder in a park full of joggers and dog walkers. Police ... Read more »

Rangers pip Celtic to top spot in best atmosphere rankings as every EPL ground falls in line behind Glasgow's big two

Respected English-based football magazine Four Four Two has named Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium as the best ground in the United Kingdom for atmosphere. Celtic Park pips Manchester United’s Old Trafford for ... Read more »

Boris Johnson dampens hope of signing US trade agreement any time soon

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Boris Johnson last night admitted he faces an uphill battle to persuade Joe Biden to sign a post-Brexit trade deal – saying the ... Read more »

Callum Davidson determined to book Hampden semi-final spot for supporters

Callum Davidson hopes St Johnstone will once again rise to the occasion to set up a memorable Hampden trip for supporters. The Perth club starred on the grandest of stages ... Read more »

Steven Gerrard calls on Rangers frontmen to 'stand up' amid big absences as he searches for lost killer instinct

Steven Gerrard has demanded his strike force rediscovers its killer touch when Livingston come calling in the Premier Sports Cup on Wednesday night. The Rangers boss is desperate to get ... Read more »

Donny van de Beek told to leave Manchester United to keep career alive

Donny van de Beek has been told to speak to his agent and find a way of Manchester United to keep his World Cup dreams alive. Signed last season from ... Read more »

Anthony Joshua sounds Evander Holyfield warning to Oleksandr Usyk - 'Good luck to him'

Anthony Joshua has warned his next challenger Oleksandr Usyk that he’s “jumped in at the deep end” in the heavyweight division. The two-time unified boxing world heavyweight champion thinks Usyk ... Read more »

Anthony Joshua interview: 'Tyson Fury fight would be massive - but Oleksandr Usyk bout is just as big'

When Anthony Joshua, a man not prone to hyperbole, talks of how “annoyed” he was at the demise of his £200 million fight with Tyson Fury, then you know something ... Read more »

Anthony Joshua confirms age he will start to ponder retirement as Tyson Fury deadline set

Anthony Joshua appears to have confirmed the age he will retire at after an illustrious boxing career while setting a five-year deadline for his bout with Tyson Fury to happen ... Read more »

Prominent ESPN Analyst Reportedly In Contract Negotiations

When ESPN announced the lineup for its new daily NBA show earlier today, one name was conspicuously missing: Richard Jefferson. © Provided by The Spun Richard Jefferson on the court ... Read more »

Mike Greenberg reportedly a candidate for NBA Finals hosting duties

With Maria Taylor at NBC and Rachel Nichols pulled from NBA work, ESPN needs a new host for their NBA Finals coverage next summer. © Provided by Awful Announcing Mike ... Read more »

Prince Andrew: Legal papers sent to LA lawyer notifying him of civil sexual assault case

Image: Prince Andrew's LA lawyer has been served legal papers Legal papers, notifying Prince Andrew of a civil sexual assault case, have been delivered to his LA lawyer. The summons ... Read more »

Defence Secretary orders probe into Afghan interpreters data breach

The Defence Secretary has ordered an investigation into a data breach involving the details of Afghan interpreters looking to come to the UK, a Government source has confirmed. The Ministry ... Read more »

‘Se não quer se vacinar, nem precisa vir', diz prefeito de NY a Bolsonaro

O prefeito de Nova York, Bill de Blasio, disse em pronunciamento nesta segunda-feira, 20, que o presidente brasileiro Jair Bolsonaro “nem precisa” ir à cidade caso não queira se vacinar, ... Read more »

Ministers rebuked by Boris Johnson for ‘frippery' amid battle over use of Chevening country house

© Getty The 17th-century manor house Chevening has been used by foreign secretaries since the 1980s – Getty Boris Johnson has dismissed a row between two of his most senior ... Read more »

Boris Johnson admits he cannot rule out restrictions and disruption at Christmas

© Getty Images boris-johnson.jpg Boris Johnson has admitted he cannot guarantee a normal Christmas this year, as Britain grapples with disruption to goods supplies caused by gas price hikes and ... Read more »

Security threat to New Zealand deemed ‘not credible' ahead of third ODI against England Women

© Getty Images englandnewzeland2009a.jpg New Zealand Cricket says a “threatening email” sent to the ECB ahead of the third ODI against England Women has been investigated and deemed “not credible”, ... Read more »

Petrov backs Celtic fans to be patient in ‘transition period'

Former Celtic midfielder Stiliyan Petrov believes Hoops fans are prepared to give manager Ange Postecoglou time in what is a “transition period” for the club. © PA Images Stiliyan Petrov at Celtic ... Read more »

Anthony Joshua expects Usyk fight to be his toughest since facing Klitschko

Anthony Joshua has suggested his world heavyweight title defence against Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night could be his most difficult fight since he beat Wladimir Klitschko ... Read more »

Rio Ferdinand names Chelsea star as the best centre-back in the Premier League

© Provided by Metro Rio Ferdinand has hailed the role Thomas Tuchel has played in Antonio Rudiger’s rise (Picture: Getty) Rio Ferdinand believes that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has been ... Read more »

Chelsea U-turn sees Tuchel favourite on brink of new deal; bumper pay rise

Centre-back Andreas Christensen is reportedly close to committing his future to Chelsea by signing a new deal worth £120,000 per week. © PA Images Andreas Christensen, Tammy Abraham and Timo ... Read more »

Referee confirmed for Manchester United vs Aston Villa in Premier League

The Premier League have announced that Mike Dean will be the referee when Manchester United host Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime. United are currently unbeaten in the ... Read more »

Australian Jarred Gillett to become first official from outside British Isles to referee in Premier League

Australian referee Jarred Gillett will become the first non-British or Irish referee to take charge of a Premier League match this weekend. © Getty Images jarredgillet209a.jpg Gillett has been confirmed ... Read more »

Boris Johnson tells unjabbed Brazil leader Bolsonaro to 'get the vaccine' in awkward exchange

Mr Bolsonaro, who had coronavirus last year, claimed the vaccine would turn people into a crocodile and says he has natural immunity. Read more »

Welsh Cambrian Mountains lamb granted protected status

Welsh Cambrian Mountains lamb has become the latest food to be granted protected status in the UK following Brexit. The meat, from lambs born and reared in the Cambrian Mountains ... Read more »

Soccer-Barca scrape late draw with Granada as fans stay away

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona limped to a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Granada in LaLiga on Monday, needing defender Ronald Araujo’s last minute header to rescue a point. © ... Read more »

Chelsea U-turn sees Thomas Tuchel favourite on brink of new deal and bumper pay rise

Centre-back Andreas Christensen is reportedly close to committing his future to Chelsea by signing a new deal worth £120,000 per week. © PA Images Andreas Christensen, Tammy Abraham and Timo ... Read more »

'Not to bury them alive' - Daniel Farke defends Norwich players before Liverpool League Cup tie

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke has defended his players ahead of Tuesday’s League Cup clash with Liverpool, saying it is important “not to bury them alive.” The Canaries have endured ... Read more »

What record gas prices means for your money

We are entering into autumn now, a time when our energy usage traditionally starts to increase as we start to turn the heating on more often.  © Provided by Lovemoney ... Read more »

National Express targets Stagecoach takeover

National Express is mulling a bid for rival Stagecoach that could join up two of the UK’s biggest transport operators.  © Dave Thompson/PA Wire Stagecoach – Dave Thompson/PA Wire The ... Read more »

US to relax travel rules for vaccinated passengers from UK and EU

Vaccinated passengers will be able to enter the US from the UK and EU from November, ending almost two years of coronavirus travel restrictions. © PA The US will allow ... Read more »

Referee appointed for Man City's huge Premier League title clash with Chelsea

Man City’s trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend will be refereed by Michael Oliver. City currently sit in fifth place in the ... Read more »

MoD investigation into data breach involving 250 Afghan interpreters' details

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into a data breach involving the details of 250 Afghan interpreters. It is not yet clear if the interpreters concerned are in ... Read more »

Organ Donation Week: The vital conversation we all need to have with our families

Organ Donation Week (Alamy/PA) Organ donation may have changed in England and Scotland last year to an opt-out system – meaning you’ll be considered an organ donor after your death, ... Read more »

PM says US-UK trade deal is not priority for Biden ahead of White House visit

Boris Johnson has blamed his lack of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US on President Joe Biden having “a lot of fish to fry” as he heads to the ... Read more »

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out Christmas Covid disruption

Photograph: Maureen McLean/Rex/Shutterstock Boris Johnson has refused to guarantee that he will not have to disrupt Christmas gatherings for a second year running by imposing Covid restrictions, though he insisted ... Read more »

Johnson shrugs off ‘fripperies and foibles' of Chevening estate claims

Boris Johnson has dismissed the “fripperies and foibles” of Dominic Raab and his successor as Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, both reportedly vying for access to the Chevening grace-and-favour mansion. But ... Read more »

Hong Kong schools launch revamped liberal studies course

Schools in Hong Kong have been rolling out the newly revamped liberal studies course. The programme went through an overhaul, starting with its renaming to “citizenship and social development”. The ... Read more »