Manchester Airport and Ryanair launch legal action against government over travel list

Major players in the travel industry are challenging the government over its traffic light system.

The Manc The Manc - 17th June 2021

Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and Ryanair are taking legal action against the government over its traffic light travel system.

MAG – which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports – is teaming up with Michael O’Leary’s airline to tackle the government on international travel rules, reports the BBC.

The legal challenge – which arrives just days after confirmation the end of lockdown will be delayed – apparently has the backing of other big travel companies.

Travel groups are arguing that the government needs to produce more data to support its decision-making on restrictions to certain countries.

MAG and Ryanair have launched legal action over travel list restrictions / Image: Wikimedia Commons

Currently, the government is operating a traffic light system for travel – which categorises countries as ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ depending on their risk level.


Arrivals from green list countries do not need to quarantine upon their return to the UK, whereas those coming back from Amber nations must self-isolate for 10 days. Anyone returning from red list countries must quarantine in a hotel.

All passengers – regardless of destination – are asked to take COVID tests.


Countries can be moved between lists at any time.

But Ryanair CEO O’Leary has called the system a “shambles”.

Earlier this week he stated: “UK tourism and aviation needs a pragmatic travel policy, which permits vaccinated UK and EU citizens to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine or negative PCR tests.


“This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.”

Ryanair’s boss has called the / Image: Photo by Fotis Christopoulos via Unsplash

Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO, released a statement earlier this month claiming it was “clear the government doesn’t trust its own system” – which he called “not fit for purpose.”

He wrote: “The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the Government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We have repeatedly asked for this data, but we are being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.

“That is not the way to go about limiting people’s freedoms and crippling the country’s travel and tourism sectors. With so much at stake, we need immediate transparency and urgent action to make this system of travel restrictions fit for purpose.”

A government spokesperson said it could not comment on specific legal proceedings, but confirmed: “We recognise this is a challenging period for the sector, as we seek to balance the timely reopening of international travel while safeguarding public health and protecting the vaccine roll-out.”


“We have provided £7bn to help support for the industry during the pandemic.”

Featured image: Flickr