Holidays: Michael O'Leary slams UK travel restrictions
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Holidaymakers have been advised to remain in Britain this summer amid fears of another third wave of coronavirus. A risk-based system with red, amber and green ratings for countries around the world determines the quarantine and coronavirus testing requirements people face when returning to the UK. But Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has slammed the policy for being “incredibly difficult”.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr O’Leary said: “We’re taking lots of bookings from UK passengers in July and into August.
“Everyone accepts that restrictions will be gone by peak summer.
“But it’s very difficult for us as a industry and for the rest of the wider tourism industry to plan for June, to plan for July.
“Do we bring more people back on furlough, do we re-employ them, do we reschedule flights.
“If we can’t schedule the flights then cancel them within two weeks because we have to pay compensation to customers.
“It’s incredibly difficult. We’ll get through this but the real challenge is how to you get the rest of London and Britain’s tourism industry back to work because it fundamentally depends on whether people back European visitors who by the end of June 60 percent of the population would have been vaccinated and yet the UK is saying we’re closed.
“Why if you’ve had the vaccine do you have to quarantine and in the UK, why if you’re vaccinated can you not go on holidays to Malta or Portugal who has lower Covid case rates than the UK, it makes no sense.
“It’s not just a muddle, it’s a complete c**k-up.”
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It comes as an industry body has warned the “failed and damaging” traffic light system for international travel must be abandoned if the UK travel and tourism sector is to be saved from total collapse.
London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said the Government must scrap the system which has “wreaked havoc” among consumers and businesses in order to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
But Portugal being moved from the green to amber caught many holidaymakers by surprise and left thousands of UK tourists scrambling to get home before new quarantine rules came into force on Tuesday morning.
It led to the Government facing accusations it had not kept to promises over a “green watchlist” that would have given travellers increased warning about a country potentially coming off the safe list.
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The WTTC said that moving to a more transparent and easier to understand system will restore consumer confidence and provide a “much-needed” boost to the travel and tourism sector.
It warned that a further 218,000 jobs were at “serious risk” if international travel continued to be off limits for most of the summer, on top of the 307,000 jobs which were lost in the UK sector last year.
WTTC acting CEO Virginia Messina said: “It’s time the Government abandoned the hugely damaging traffic lights system.
“Consumers, airlines and the wider travel sector were promised a watchlist and three weeks’ notice of any changes from green to amber, and not just four days.”
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