- Ryanair will not cancel flights and plans to fly half-empty planes in July-August in face of UK Government quarantine plan
By Andrew Atkinson
Ryanair will not cancel flights and plans to fly half-empty planes in July and August in the face of the UK Government’s quarantine plan, which came into force on June 8.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said: “Our bookings for July and August are running at about 50pc of where they would normally be this time of year.
“At the moment we’re looking at something like a 50pc load factor compared to normal July-August where we’d be looking at 90-95pc.”
O’Leary said the two week isolation rule for arrivals was ‘stupid’.
Ryanair has spoken out on behalf of the three airlines launching legal action against the Government over its quarantine plans. A spokesperson from Ryanair said it was commenting on behalf of themselves, British Airways and easyJet, on the disproportionate and unfair measures.
“We challenge the UK Government on a number of defective measures, including the fact that this quarantine is more stringent than the guidelines applied to people who actually have Covid-19.
“That if you live in Scotland to date the rules won’t apply. And, for example, if you are a French or German worker commuting weekly to the UK you will be exempted. Also that the UK Government is banning people from countries with lower R rates than the UK.
“We urge the UK Government to remove this ineffective visitor quarantine which will have a devastating effect on UK’s tourism industry and will destroy thousands of jobs in this unprecedented crisis.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the laws were designed to prevent a second wave of coronavirus and it will be reviewed every three weeks.
It has suggested that ‘air bridge’ agreements that negate the need for quarantine could be in place by the end of the month.
Its opponents, which include UK airlines and more than 500 travel businesses, say it is unworkable, being implemented too late and has the potential to do irreparable economic damage.
Those arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – must give an address where they will self-isolate.
Ryanair said the rules are a political stunt and are not a quarantine.
Michael O’Leary told the BBC: “You could be in Sainsbury’s, you could be on the beach, you could be on the golf course in the unlikely event the Home Office calls you – all they will have is a mobile number.”
He claimed even the Home Office acknowledged the rules were unenforceable.
Some industries have warned they will be severely impacted by the rules, and Mr O’Leary warned of devastation.
Despite criticism from businesses, Ms Patel has said the measures are proportionate and being implemented at the right time.
Under the new rules, those arriving in the UK should drive their own car to their destination, where possible, and once at their destination they must not use public transport or taxis.
They must not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors – except for essential support.
Those arriving in England and Northern Ireland could face a fine of £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate for the full 14 days, while they face a £480 fine in Scotland. The enforcement rules in Wales are not clear.
Anyone arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man does not have to complete a form or enter quarantine. Exemption also include workers in some industries, such as road haulage and medical professionals, providing essential care.
All other travellers have to fill in a public health passenger locator form on arrival. Failure to do so could lead to a penalty of £100, or travellers may be refused entry.
If they are unable to provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at the traveller’s expense. It says there will also be checks to see whether the rules are being followed.
But the union representing UK Border Force staff said the rules were complex and they were not fully prepared.
Lucy Moreton at the Immigration Services Union, told the BBC that technical papers explaining what to check for only arrived on June 5 and were still not available to those operating on the front line. She said there are 42 categories exempt from the quarantine rules.
Ms Moreton added there was no system for checking addresses and only flagrant rule-flouters – such as those using the name Mickey Mouse – would be picked up.
Spain open their borders on July 1, with commercial flights set to resume from the UK to Spain, including arrivals at Alicante-Elche airport.
Thousands of expats, with properties in Spain are eager to return after the cancellation of flights amid COVID-19 lockdown in mid-March.
“It’s nice to see that life is beginning to get back to normal again in Spain with the Government phases legislation in place,” Valerie Breedon, who has a property in Montesinos along with husband Mark, told The Leader.
“We definitely can’t wait to return to Spain and to Los Montesinos. We should be out there on July 3 – with a bit of luck,”