Aviation chiefs have welcomed the expansion in the green list, announced by government on Wednesday night, but say the UK is still lagging behind Europe’s travel recovery.
Arrivals to England from France will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Qatar and Bahrain will all move from the red to amber list as the changes kick in from 4am on August 8.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, said: “This is another missed opportunity and with the summer season nearing its conclusion means international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for. This puts us at odds with our European neighbours and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the prime minister has spoken of.
“Alongside the continuation of expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped-for expansion of the green list – which makes less sense by the day, given where we are with the vaccination programme – this is yet another blow to the sector and families desperate to get away.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, described the news as “a boost” but added: “We urge the government to not only continue to open up travel, but to tackle the sky-high cost of testing and to provide a much-needed tailored package of financial support.
“Any extension to the green list is welcome, but we remain a long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel.”
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG Group – which includes Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports – welcomed what is “effectively the final review of the traffic light lists before the end of the summer holidays”.
“It is encouraging to finally see decisions that reflect the data on the ground in these destinations and close the gap with the approach being taken in other countries,” he said.
“Government must now take this opportunity to develop a stable, sustainable and affordable system that gives people the confidence to book ahead through the winter and into next year.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman and chief executive, welcomed the green list expansion but called for more to be added.
“The UK’s economic recovery is reliant on a thriving travel sector and right now we’re lagging behind Europe, with our more stringent testing requirements and a red list significantly broader than our European peers,” he said.