UK airline bosses call on PM to give international travel green light

Video report by ITV News Reporter Martha Fairlie

Bosses from leading UK airlines are asking the PM to give them the green light for international travel within weeks, it has been reported.

The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet,, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic as well as trade body Airlines UK wrote to Boris Johnson as ministers made it clear the ban on foreign travel will be in place until at least May 17.

When it is lifted it will be replaced by a risk-based “traffic light” system with red, amber and green ratings for countries around the world.

Airline chiefs said in their letter, published by The Sun, they recognised restriction-free universal travel may not be possible by May 17.

“However there can be no economic recovery without aviation, and we are confident we now have the tools to enable a safe and meaningful restart to travel in May – allowing us to return to our job of reuniting friends and family, supporting trade and business and allowing Britons to enjoy a well-earned break again,” the letter stated.

It added: “We believe vaccinated passengers should not be subject to travel restrictions and that testing can also reduce the barriers to travel including for areas that are considered to present some risk. Only very high-risk areas would be subject to more stringent measures”

The PM is expected to on Monday outline the government’s approach for easing restrictions on foreign travel when its global travel task force reports on April 12.

  • ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie on the new traffic light scheme

The traffic light system will be based on a range of factors – including the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

The letter comes after the same group of airline bosses on February 18 called on the government to outline a recovery road map for the industry so they could plan for the summer.

At the same time they called for further economic support for UK aviation to stimulate and strengthen any recovery when it comes.

Boris Johnson has been urged to give international travel the go ahead.

What does the traffic light system mean?

There will be no isolation requirement for travel from countries in the new green category, although pre-departure and post-arrival tests will still be needed.

The ‘red’ and ‘amber’ restrictions would remain as they are now - with the requirement to enter quarantine or self-isolation upon return.

The government would base the rating on levels of vaccination in the foreign country, the rates of infection there, and any emerging variants.