EXCLUSIVE: Lawyer in Ryanair vs government case reveals details

Tony Payne tells Key.Aero that claim could be settled next week – and explains what Ryanair’s involvement really is

The outcome of the legal dispute surrounding the traffic light system involving Ryanair, Manchester Airport Group and the government has been applied for on an expedited basis and could be heard as early next week according to Tony Payne – an aviation specialist lawyer advising a number of the parties in the legal dispute, who spoke to Key.Aero earlier.  

Photo Ryanair
Photo: Ryanair

Payne also stated that Ryanair is not technically suing the government. “The claimant is Manchester Airport Group, not Ryanair,” said Payne. “Ryanair is an interested party to the claim. The claimant Manchester Airport Group has made the application for the issue to be heard by the Court on an expedited basis. If the application for expedition is successful then the final hearing would be heard on that date. If the result is successful, then MAG would likely seek a decision that the latest traffic light decision was unlawful and that more information is required from Government to be more transparent in its decision making process pertaining to the traffic light system and international travel.” 

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, is set to have the backing of other major UK airlines. “This is a similar process to the one which was undertaken by IAG and Ryanair last year, and which was, arguably, indirectly successful in influencing government policy,” added Payne. “This is really about seeking transparency and certainty for the airline sector and the travelling public with regards to the international travel restrictions.” 

Europe’s largest carrier had criticised Boris Johnson’s “mismanagement” of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reopening of the UK economy following the UK’s vaccine rollout programme. The airline’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, described the UK’s Covid travel policy as a “shambles” following the recent removal of Portugal from the green list.  

Currently, arrivals from amber countries will need to quarantine, while red-list countries are placed under the strictest travel rules. Court papers, in which the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Transport are named as the Defendants, reveal that MAG states that the Government has a duty to clearly explain how it makes decisions on categorising countries, and to publish the supporting data, given the impact of these decisions on the aviation industry.