Whether you agree with him or not, Michael O’Leary is one of the more amusing characters in the drivers seat of an airline, and in times like these he’s a breath of fresh air. Fresh off of 14 quarantine policies for UK travel, which may or may not happen, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary laid into the UK Government in no uncertain terms, stating to BBC Radio 4 that the proposed policy is “idiotic and unimplementable”.
O’Leary’s choice of words on Monday, May 18th fit a general sentiment among intelligent travelers in the UK, including this website, which authored an article titled “Truly Idiotic: The UK’s 14 Day Quarantine Plan” just last week. Idiotic is an appropriate word when the greatest epidemiologists, scientists, data modelers and EU travel officials agree the plan is idiotic.
The move catapulted growing sentiment that UK and EU travelers are aiming for at least one getaway in 2020, while also squashing the chances of refunds for many passengers.
With the EU expecting a return to travel by June 15th for EU residents, and wider tourism beyond that date from further abroad including the USA, airlines were banking on a “cabin fever” boost, but with 14 days of quarantine for visitors, and even returning residents, the plans killed any realistic hopes, at least for the short term, or until the (idiotic) policy is withdrawn.
Further, plans to allow travelers from France to skip 14 day quarantine rules puts UK airlines at a disadvantage, since anyone flying from Europe, or further abroad would just fly to Paris first, and then connect to the UK rather than enjoying a direct flight to the UK. The move was so especially idiotic, it kneecapped UK airlines and travelers alike, without moving the needle in “R” rate.
O’Leary carried on, delivering blow after valid blow on the UK’s “make it up as you go” response to the crisis, with particular frustration for just how much the uncertainty has effected what was once a promising summer in Europe, just weeks ago. O’Leary stated the airline planned to fly 1,000 flights a day, but uncertainty caused from UK dropped predictions to just 44% of that figure for travel between July and September.
“This is the same government that has … mismanaged the crisis for many weeks. They’re making this stuff up as they go along”.
Airlines already face an uphill battle with few countries opening up widely to tourists in the near term, and new procedures to cross a border. Travelers can expect temperature checks, and even cheek swabs, if a recent negative test result for covid-19 cannot be produced. Still, after months of quarantine, many are hoping to take advantage of soon to be opened borders in Italy, Greece, Iceland and Austria, but the UK has put yet another spanner in the works.