At teatime on Easter Monday, I settled back and waited expectantly to discover the near future of aviation. Ministers had carefully leaked plans to formalise the system of categorising countries according to the perceived risk they present.
This, we learnt from friendly newspapers, would allow international travel to resume at scale on 17 May. Arrivals in the UK from “green” countries, regarded as low risk, avoid quarantine. Passengers from “amber” nations would be subject to self-isolation unless they could demonstrate they had been vaccinated. And the “red” list remains much as it is now, with mandatory hotel quarantine for 11 nights at a price way above the likely air fare.
But at the 5pm Downing Street news conference, the grand reveal never happened – tipping the airports and airlines into absolute fury.
They had already regarded six weeks as implausibly short notice for resuming operations at scale. But the prime minister cheerfully informed them that 17 May might not be freedom-of-the-skies day, and that they might find out more this week. Or next month.
The airlines affected – whether red (Jet2), amber (easyJet) or green (Aer Lingus) – were collectively furious…