A WhatsApp group shared by airline executives was awash with furious remarks on Thursday morning.
Ministers had promised bosses that they would be warned ahead of notable changes to its green list of countries.
When news leaked out that Portugal – one the few holiday hot spots on the Government’s green list – would be moved to amber on Thursday, they were left gobsmacked.
Anyone returning from the country from Tuesday will be subject to greater restrictions, including being forced to quarantine at home for 10 days.
“We were expecting a few more countries to go on the red list,” says one executive. “And maybe Malta along with some of the Spanish and Greek islands going green.”
Aviation leaders did not mince their words. EasyJet’s Johan Lundgren labelled the announcement a “shock decision” and “a huge blow to those who are currently in Portugal and those who have booked to be reunited with loved ones, or take a well-deserved break this summer”.