Experts are 'scratching their head' to understand traffic light system, says pilot union boss

23 June 2021, 18:04

By Tim Dodd

The General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association has told LBC if the government is going to tell people they can't fly to certain countries "they need to publish the data to prove it".

The conversation comes as around 800 people, including pilots, cabin crew and travel agents, have protested outside Parliament today to pressure the Government into reopening the travel sector.

General Secretary Brian Sutton began by telling Shelagh: "For aviation as a whole, flying is 70% down on pre-Covid levels, much much worse than the rest of Europe.

"And for pilots, that's meant 1000 job losses and all the rest of the pilots on part-time pay and on furlough, and not knowing what's happening with their careers.

"If you bear in mind that generally pilots pay over £100,000 of their own money to train to be a pilot and expect a decent career to follow, all those careers have been put on hold."

Shelagh then asked: "What do you think is the bare minimum in terms of change that the government could and should give you?"

"Well the first thing the government should do is be transparent about the way it's deciding which countries go on which part of the traffic light list," Mr Sutton said.

"What exactly are the measures being used? What is the data, what is the science behind these decisions? My members are pilots, they're used to science and method in their day jobs, why isn't the government applying the same standards so that we know why countries like Malta, the Balearics, some of the Greek islands, the Caribbean, the US routes, why aren't they on the green list?"

Shelagh then asked whether Mr Sutton was confident that loosening restrictions wouldn't put people at risk.

He replied: "Well I can't second guess the science because I haven't seen it, and this is the problem.

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"The government said it was going to follow four criteria to decide which countries would go on the green list, amber list, red list, but they haven't published any of the data under those headings so nobody actually knows why different countries are being classified in different ways.

"If the government's going to say no you can't fly to countries XYZ, they need to publish the data to prove why not."

The UK Government's traffic light lists are due to be updated on Thursday – if any changes are made at all.