Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is to lead a court challenge this week over the government’s decision making regarding the so-called “traffic light system”.

The owner of Manchester, East Midland and Stansted airports will be joined by Ryanair, IAG, Virgin, TUI and Easyjet “to challenge the lack of transparency around how Ministers are making decisions about the traffic light system for international travel”.

The move comes as MAG published its 2020/21 results, showing a loss of over £1 million per day for the year ending March 31, 2021.

Passenger numbers across its three airports were down 89 per cent on the previous year, leading to a loss of £374 million.

In a statement MAG and the airline groups said that “Without sight or understanding of this decision-making process, the aviation sector – already the worst hit part of the UK economy as a result of the pandemic – is unable to plan its recovery, as countries are added and removed from the safe travel list with no obvious logic, forewarning or consultation with the industry”.

The news comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today (July 8) that fully vaccinated UK travellers returning to England from “amber list” countries will no longer have to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated UK travellers to be exempt from quarantine on return from amber list destinations

Commenting on Mag’s results, CEO Charlie Cornish said:

“These annual results paint a very different picture to previous years, reflecting the true impact of what has been the most difficult 12 months in our history.

“We saw international travel come to a near standstill with passenger numbers collapsing to less than 10 per cent of normal levels, and we have had to take a series of decisive, and often difficult actions to protect the future of our business.

“As we look ahead, I am confident of the strong recovery our business and our sector can make, as well as the critical role our airports will play in ensuring a full recovery of the UK economy. Even in the last few weeks, we have taken tentative steps forward with some important markets now on the Government’s green list.

“However, our recovery has so far been stifled by the Government’s traffic light restrictions on international travel, which are significantly more onerous than other countries.

“After more than a year of disruption, consumers deserve more clarity so they can book with confidence. And as an industry, we need to understand how the Government’s traffic light system works so that we can make the right decisions for the future.

“The Government has been unwilling to provide that transparency and that is why we have been forced into bringing a legal challenge to secure more information, along with five key industry partners.

“We know there is demand for international travel, and we know that it can happen safely. We will continue working to ensure that our world-leading aviation industry, which supports more than 1m jobs and generates billions in economic value each year, can return to full strength and thrive once again, as soon as possible.”