British Airways Pursues its Legal Challenge of UK Quarantine

By Valery Collins | June 22, 2020

British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair have started a joint legal action in the High Court against the UK Government.  They are requesting a judicial review of the quarantine measures imposed on all arrivals in the UK from June 8th.  Lawyers are saying that the case will not be heard until early in July.

The UK Quarantine Measures

British Airways Airbus A350

All arrivals in the UK are required to submit an online form 48 hours before travelling.  They must give an address where they will self-isolate for the first fourteen days of their stay.  Failure to submit the form or to be at the nominated address will be subject to fines ranging from £100 to £1000.

The airlines are challenging these measures on the grounds they are irrational at a time when other countries are opening up their borders post coronavirus lockdown.  There is no doubt that these measures will discourage visitors to the UK.  This is a hefty blow to the aviation industry already struggling due to lockdown.

Meanwhile the government has announced (several times) that they are considering the introduction of travel corridorsor air bridges.  They hope to have some in place by the end of June.

Air Bridges and Travel Corridors

Island of Procida in Italy Credit: Valery Collins

A travel corridor or air bridge is a reciprocal arrangement with another country whereby travellers to and from those countries do not have to quarantine on arrival.  Some countries, for example Italy and Spain, have already opened their borders to travellers from the UK without requiring them to quarantine.  However, the requirement to quarantine when they return to the UK will deter many people from taking advantage of this.

If travel corridors are agreed, or quarantine measures are lifted will we be free to travel?  Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice must also be considered.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice

British Citizen Passport Credit: Valery Collins

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising British nationals not to travel abroad unless the journey is essential.  It continually reviews its advice.  But as it is not known when it may change planning holidays is very difficult.  It does not mean people cannot travel but it will affect travel insurance.  Generally, airlines and holiday companies will cancel all trips if the FCO advises against travel to a particular country.  But this is universal advice with no end date.

It is a waiting game.  Airlines will delay cancelling trips as long as possible.   When a travel company cancels a trip it must offer a full refund.  Customers should be patient.  If a customer cancels they lose the right to a refund and must then rely on travel insurance for any compensation.

For now, we must all play the waiting game, or book a staycation.

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