Airport boss blasts ministers over mixed messaging on traffic light travel system

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, owner of Stansted Airport.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, owner of Stansted Airport, has hit out at messaging on the red, amber and green travel system - Credit: Manchester Airports Group

An airport boss has hit out at government ministers and officials for discouraging international travel.

The chief executive of Stansted airport owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) Charlie Cornish said it was "simply unacceptable for some ministers and officials to seek to discourage international travel, based their own interpretations of government policy".

Confusion has reigned over the government's red, amber and green countries system to stop the spread of coronavirus after mixed statements from ministers and officials.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said people could go to amber-listed countries to visit family or friends as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return, while Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said "some people might think a holiday is essential" and therefore a valid reason to travel.

At Prime Minister's Questions Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "The Government has lost control of the messaging."


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Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to clarify the position on  "amber list" countries -  which includes most European destinations.

He  insisted the position was "very clear"  and people should only travel to an amber list country "for some extreme circumstance, such as the serious illness of a family member".

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"You should not be going to an amber list country on holiday," he said.

The UK's "green list" of destinations includes Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and several small remote islands which are British Overseas Territories.

Mr Cornish said: “The whole point of the framework is to allow people to make their own decisions about whether to travel or not, confident in the knowledge that it would be safe.

“It is simply unacceptable for some ministers and officials to seek to discourage international travel, based their own interpretations of government policy.

“Comments like these undermine consumer confidence and risk stifling the recovery of one of the UK’s most valuable sectors.”


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