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'Jobs at risk' at Stansted Airport after Government trims international travel green list

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Stansted Airport boss Charlie Cornish has accused the Government of "unfairly scapegoating" international travel after it removed Portugal from the destination green list.

He said the traffic light system was not fit for purpose after no additions were made to the green category, which now comprises Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Portugal is part of Stansted's flight network. On Thursday (June 3) Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that he was moving it to the amber list from next Tuesday (June 8) after a doubling of coronavirus infection rates in that country, as a "safety first approach" to "give us the best chance of unlocking domestically".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (47857252)
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (47857252)

There had been hopes that Greek and Spanish islands as well as Malta, Finland and parts of the Caribbean could be added to the green list.

Travellers to green destinations do not need to quarantine on return. Amber designation means holidaymakers must isolate for 10 days, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two PCR tests.

Anyone travelling to a red country must pay for a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel on return, as well as a pre-departure test and two PCR tests at a cost of around £120 a time.

Stansted Airport terminal (47857279)
Stansted Airport terminal (47857279)

Mr Cornish, the chief executive of Stansted's owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which also operates Manchester and East Midlands airports, said: "We were told the traffic light system would allow people to travel safely, with the right measures in place to manage risk for different countries.

"But it is now clear the Government doesn't trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.

"Low-risk destinations continue to be left off the green list despite clear evidence they're safe to visit. With case rates lower than the UK, we simply cannot understand why the likes of the Balearics, the Canaries and some Greek islands don't fall into that category.

"If we followed the approach being taken across Europe, lots of other countries – like the United States, Germany and Italy – would also be classed as green.

Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish (47857255)
Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish (47857255)

"Instead, we're stuck with a system that is clearly not fit for purpose and will deny people the opportunity to travel abroad safely this year.

"The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the Government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We've repeatedly asked for this data but we're being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.

"That's not the way to go about limiting people's freedoms and crippling the country's travel and tourism sectors. With so much at stake, we need immediate transparency and urgent action to make this system of travel restrictions fit for purpose."

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