Image Credit: Department for Transport, flickr

The owner of East Midlands Airport have announced a legal challenge against Government over their ‘traffic light’ travel system.

Manchester Airports Group has joined forces with Ryanair to seek clarification in how the government made decisions in its review of the traffic light lists.

In a move back by a number of other major UK airlines, the court papers name health secretary Matt Hancock and transport secretary Grant Shapps as defendants.

The airline and MAG have announced that the action has been caused by the lack of transparency of government decision-making.

The applicants claim the obscurity has affected the confidence of consumers when booking holidays this summer and the ability of airports and airlines to make plans for air travel’s recovery.

In court papers lodged at the High Court, the applicants state that the government has a duty to explain how they make decisions, and to publish any supporting data for those made when considering the impact they have on the aviation business.

Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO, said: “The whole travel sector recognises the critical importance of protecting public health, and we have facilitated every measure the government has required in response to Covid-19.

“That is why we originally welcomed the Global Travel Taskforce’s traffic light system, which the Government said would be based on a ‘a clear and consistent evidence-based approach to facilitate the safe, sustainable and robust return of international travel’.

“However, recent developments suggest that the Government is now unwilling to open up international travel by putting low risk countries on the green list.”

The Government’s most recent review of the traffic light system saw Portugal unexpectedly pulled from the green list, but no other countries added.

The court papers identify that many countries have prevalence rates lower than Portugal did when it was classed as green.

The Statement of Facts and Grounds within the papers filed with the High Court states that: “No information was provided as to why no country had been moved to the green list.

“A limited amount of data was provided in relation to Portugal but no explanation or assessment of the data explaining the conclusions drawn or thresholds applied.

“The scientific advice of the JBC and any advice from the UK medical officers was not provided or even mentioned.”

The document adds: “This lack of clarity in the decision-making process is not marginal but fundamental.

“Decisions that dramatically affect the Claimant and other industry participants are being made in what amounts to a “black box” with outcomes apparently unrelated to data.

“As explained above, the outcomes do not allow the Claimant to infer the basis for the decisions being taken and appear aberrant.”