Travel Industry chiefs demand ‘urgent expansion to green list’

Industry leaders have released the text of a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson urging an expansion of the green list for travel and removal of restrictions on return from these destinations.

The heads of easyJet, Jet2, Tui UK, Airlines UK, Abta and Manchester Airports Group are among the signatories to the letter which accuses the government of “moving the goal posts” on travel’s restart and warns: “The UK is falling behind the rest of the world and risks throwing away its ‘vaccine dividend’.”

The chief executives express frustration at ministers’ insistence that people should ‘stay in this country’ and insist: “Safe travel is possible and an urgent expansion to the green list is justified, including to many European countries, the US and Caribbean.”

They call on the prime minister to clarify the government’s policy and make international travel easier this summer, urging him to:

“Recognise many countries are low-risk for travel, add them to the green list and re-introduce the Islands Policy;”

Recognise “vaccination status so that vaccinated passengers do not need to take a test or self-isolate if travelling from green or amber countries;

“Move to green being green and remove current restrictions;

“Genuinely drive down the cost of testing by removing VAT on PCR tests and reducing the cost of NHS PCR tests;

“Remove guidance that people should not travel to amber countries.”

TUI UK and Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham said: “It is clear the data supports expanding the green list. Getting away on holiday to key destinations like Spain, Greece, some Caribbean Islands and the US should now be possible.

“We’re already seeing other European markets open up to travel so now is the time for the UK to do the same.”

Steve Heapy, chief executive of and Jet2holidays, said: “Infection and vaccination rates across many of our destinations are improving rapidly and, if you apply what the government has said, there is no reason why they can’t be safely opened to UK holidaymakers. Customers need time to plan their holidays.”

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren agreed: “Now is the time for the government to bank the gains from the huge success of the vaccination programme and expand the green list.

“The science shows travel can safely reopen to much of Europe and most European governments have opened up travel with far fewer restrictions and exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers.

“British consumers are not only being left behind but could end up unfairly picking up a bigger bill for their trip.”

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “It’s illogical for the government not to follow its own traffic light system [and] makes no sense for ministers to say people shouldn’t travel to amber countries when the government’s own system allows people to do so in a risk-managed way.

“Travel agents, tour operators and their customers need a clear and simple system to follow without contradictions.”

Manchester Airports Group chief Charlie Cornish argued: “The Government is holding back international travel despite clear evidence that more countries should be on the green list.

“The government is actively telling people not to travel to amber countries despite creating a system that makes it safe for them to do so.

“At the same time, we’re requiring millions of people with immunity from Covid-19 to pay for PCR tests to gather data on variants that other governments reliably collect.”

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade warned: “The UK will rapidly fall behind the rest of Europe unless it looks again at its overly cautious approach to international travel.

“There is no reason why our green list can’t be expanded to include the US and the most-popular European hot spots or for the UK not to follow the EU’s lead in exempting vaccinated travellers from restrictions.”

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