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19th May 2021

More than 100 flights from India have landed in UK since country was placed on red list

Claudia McInerney

Boris Johnson has been accused of not protecting the UK’s borders against Covid

Around 110 flights from India have arrived in the UK since the country was placed on the government’s ‘red list’ over three weeks ago.

India was placed on the government’s red list on 23 April after a new variant of Covid-19 was first detected in the country.

However, an analysis of flight data by LBC reveals that flights from India have landed in airports across the UK at a rate of more than 4.5 per day.

During the days between the government announced its updates to the red list and the travel restrictions for India coming into force, a further 16 flights landed in the UK.

The revelation comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of not protecting the country’s borders from an influx of Covid infections.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, told LBC: “The mess over the banned flights and the red list is yet more evidence of the utter mess that the Conservatives have made of protecting our borders against Covid, while the scenes of people from Red List countries having to mix at airports is deeply worrying.”

He continued: “UK government mistakes have risked letting variants in, putting our hope for freedoms at risk.”

The Indian variant of Covid-19, called B.1.617.2, has recently been identified by Public Health England as a “variant of concern” and is now the dominant strain in parts of the North West of England, including Bolton and Blackburn.

The prevalence of the Indian variant in the UK has sparked fears that lockdown restrictions may no longer end on June 21, as previously scheduled by the PM in his roadmap out of lockdown.

Unlike other countries on the government’s red list, including South Africa, direct flights from India were not banned, however  government guidance now says that “you should not travel to red list countries or territories.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “We have adapted and bolstered our world leading test and quarantine systems for incoming passengers since the start of the pandemic, and will continue to closely monitor direct flights from a small number of Red List countries to see if a blanket ban would be necessary and proportionate.

“Public safety always comes first, however we need to also consider other factors, such as critical freight and helping British nationals return home safely.”