Home Travel Ryanair's ongoing bitter dispute with Downing Street exposed

Ryanair’s ongoing bitter dispute with Downing Street exposed

The Government’s new rules for all people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days has come into effect. Now, those arriving by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – must give an address where they will self-isolate.

Anyone who breaks the rules will be fined.

Many have immediately questioned why the policy is only now coming into effect. One such opponent, Ryanair, went as far as to say the rule is no more than a government “stunt”.

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Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s boss, told the BBC: “You could be in Sainsbury’s, you could be on the beach, you could be on the golf course in the unlikely event the Home Office calls you – all they will have is a mobile number.”

He claimed even the Home Office acknowledged the rules were unenforceable.

Ryanair: Micheal O’Leary said the travel quarantine move was a ‘political stunt’ (Image: GETTY)

UK travel news: People arriving in the UK will now be required to quarantine for 14 days (Image: GETTY)

Mr O’Leary fears his industry will be severely impacted by the rules, and warned of devastation.

Despite the pushback, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said the measures are “proportionate” and being implemented “at the right time”.

It’s not the first time Ryanair has taken aim at the Government for its policies, both involving coronavirus and other issues.

Last month, Mr O’Leary appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to contest what was then just a plan for the 14-day travel quarantine.

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Airlines: Like so many other airlines Ryanair is struggling with the coronavirus lockdown (Image: GETTY)

He said: “It’s laughable that this Government can come up with any plans for a quarantine that will be strict and fully enforced when already they are exempting the Irish, the French…

“It is idiotic and it’s unimplementable. You don’t have enough police in the UK to implement a two-week lockdown.

“And what’s really worrying is that a two-week lockdown has no medical or scientific basis to it in any event.

“If you really want to do something that’s effective – wear masks.”

Further angering opponents was the initial suggestion that countries outside the UK would be exempt from the quarantine, namely, France.


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Priti Patel: She said the measures are ‘proportionate’ and being implemented ‘at the right time’ (Image: GETTY)

UK government: Many have pushed back against the government’s perceived lack of coronavirus action (Image: GETTY)

A joint statement from Britain and France initially said there would be no quarantine measures for the other.

That soon changed, with Downing Street claiming the original statement referred to the need for cooperation to manage the coming border between the two countries.

Such plans have inevitably left Ryanair and many other airlines under financial stress.

Yet, eager to return to normality, Mr O’Leary last month announced Ryanair would restore 40 percent of its flight schedule from July 1.

UK lockdown: The stages of easing lockdown (Image: Express Newspapers )

If this goes ahead, nearly 1,000 flights per day will return to regular service, and 90 percent of Ryanair’s pre-COVID-19 route restored.

Many interpreted the announcement as a minor act of defiance in the face of the Government.

Ryanair has long challenged No 10 and a plethora of issues.

In January, Mr O’Leary condemned the Government for bailing out struggling Flybe.

Summer holidays: Ryanair plans to resume 40 percent of its services from July 1 (Image: GETTY)

He accused the Government of being “blindsided by billionaires”.

In a letter to the then chancellor, Sajid Javid, Mr O’Leary said the carrier was “doomed to fail” and argued its owners should be footing the bill to “bail out the loss making Flybe”.

A controversial loan of £100million was provided, with Mr O’Leary citing a lack of fairness in the competitive field.

His words were prophetic, however, as just two months later, with the weight of the coronavirus, Flybe permanently folded and collapsed.


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