British low-cost leisure carrier Jet2 (LS, Leeds/Bradford) has announced it is restarting flights on July 1, 2021, in spite of the UK’s controversial “traffic light” system classifying the safety of overseas destinations.

The UK travel sector has urged the government to drop the system which rates countries according to COVID-19 risk. The World Travel and Tourism Council this week labelled the scheme as “incredibly disruptive”, saying it was wreaking havoc on business. This comes as Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira) was moved from the green list to the amber list on June 8 after just two weeks, sending holidaymakers scrambling back to the UK to avoid quarantine.

“We agree that public health must be the number one priority. However, despite all the evidence and data showing that travel can restart safely and at scale, the UK continues to remain largely grounded whilst the rest of Europe opens up,” commented Jet2 Chief Executive Officer, Steve Heapy.

Consequently, the carrier was restarting its flight programme to the English Channel island of Jersey – part of the UK Common Travel Area - on June 24, followed by the resumption of other international services on July 1.

In addition, because Turkey currently remains on the red list, flights and holidays to Turkey have been pushed back to July 22, 2021.

For any destinations currently on the amber list, Jet2 will allow passengers to amend their booking free of charge if they are due to travel between July 1 and July 21, 2021.

“The UK government has committed to reviewing its traffic light status of overseas destinations every three weeks. We will review our programme and policies in line with that timetable and we will continue to make considered decisions in the best interests of our customers and independent travel agency partners. We have been repeatedly recognised for that approach throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to do this,” Heapy said in a statement.

“Our customers want nothing more than to get away on their much-needed holidays and our colleagues want nothing more than to give customers the holiday they deserve. We know international travel can restart safely, so we urge the government to urgently reconsider its approach and work with the industry to help us achieve that.”

Travellers returning from countries on the green list are not required to quarantine, while those returning from amber list countries must quarantine for 10 days at home and take several COVID-19 tests. Passengers coming back from red list countries need to pay GPB1,750 pounds (USD2,480) to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel.

The UK government advises against travel to countries on the amber list, which currently includes amongst many others, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece (including the islands), Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Only a handful of countries are currently on the green list: Australia, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and St Helena Island.