Ryanair, EasyJet and BA end legal action as UK scraps quarantine rule

Ryanair jets parked up on the runway of Dublin airport. Pics: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Three of Europe’s biggest airlines have ended a legal challenge against the British government after it scrapped its quarantine rule for travellers coming from some of the most popular tourist destinations.

The UK government said the policy would be ended for English holidaymakers to countries such as France, Spain and Italy, although it would be maintained for the US.

The policy announcement coincided with a planned court hearing for a legal challenge to the measures by British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair.

The airlines heavily criticised the UK government’s introduction of a blanket rule that all travellers arriving from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days on June 8, saying it jeopardised the industry’s recovery from the crisis.

However, they agreed to end the legal challenge after the government said it would publish a list of countries to which the rules would not apply.

“The blanket quarantine introduced by the UK Government on everyone entering into England was irrational and has seriously damaged the economy and the travel industry,” the airlines said in a statement.

“[The] publication of a list of countries is a first step. We look forward to the publication of the rationale behind the decision-making and the continued lifting of the quarantine from safe countries.” 

Tom Hickman, representing the airlines, had earlier argued that the restrictions on travellers were stricter than those imposed at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, and that the rate of infection in different countries should be taken into account.

The British government said the policy was a crucial step to avoid a second wave of Covid-19, and their lawyers said that the measures had been justified and proportionate.