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Holidays 2020: Simon Calder says flight costs could ‘increase by 50 percent’

UK airlines have begun to announce plans to return to the skies in time for summer holidays as lockdown restrictions ease. However, travel expert Simon Calder has warned that some speculative measures could see operators forced to increase ticket costs by as much as 50 percent.

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easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, TUI and British Airways have all suggested they will be flying again in varying capacities by July.

As part of these plans, many of them are outlining ways to increase the health and safety on board for both passengers and crew.

Travel expert Simon Calder appeared on the BBC Travel Show over the bank holiday weekend and explained that some of these measures could see customers forking out more than anticipated for their next holiday.

In particular, there are concerns surrounding the theory that removing the middle seat onboard could improve social distancing.

“If you take the middle seat out on an aircraft then you can reduce the distance for passengers from maybe 50cm to one metre,” he explained.

“A lot of people would say that in the course of a three-hour flight that’s actually not going to make much difference but it would certainly make a lot of difference to the fare.

“If you take out one-third of the passengers the cruelty of fractions means you need to increase the price by 50 percent.”

What’s more, additional cleaning measures will mean longer turn-around times between flights and ultimately mean airlines operate fewer flights.

“There are certainly going to be some increased costs,” he said.

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“If you’re a low-cost airline and you have to clean out the aircraft thoroughly after a two-hour flight that’s going to add to your turns, it’s going to reduce the time that the aircraft is in the air.

“It’s going to effectively undermine your business model.”

He added: “Extra costs at the airport, of course, are going to put prices up.”

He did point out, though, that there could be a different future for flight costs.

“Against that, we are going to see the airlines and holiday companies coming in with all sorts of deals to convince us that it is a good idea to go travelling once again,” Calder continued.

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“For the brave, maybe for the foolhardy, there will be plenty of bargains out there.”

Yet while bargain offers might kick start flights, they may not last long due to the amount of money the travel industry has lost during the lockdown period.

He concluded: “I think when things settle down we won’t see quite as many flights, we won’t see the same range of opportunities that we have now, and we will currently see higher prices because the only way the airlines can recoup the billions of dollars that they have been losing over the past few months is, of course, to push open prices, and they will do that by keeping a lid on capacity.”

Jet2 has become the latest airline to announce plans to resume services in July, selling flight to destinations including Spain, France, Greece, Turkey and Portugal.

Meanwhile, easyJet plans to increase its flight offering from June.

British Airways has suggested a “meaningful return” in July, with a range of global destinations already on sale to customers.

TUI has said holidays will kickstart in July in line with global restrictions.

Ryanair hopes to jet off from July 1 with new safety measures in place including mandatory face masks for all who travel with them.

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Travel

Summer holidays 2020: Government reveals plans to avoid 14 day quarantine

It comes as travel firms have suggested that the quarantine will ruin holidays, and have suggested other methods to allow travel.

The proposal, announced by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, would mean that holidaymakers would be able to travel to foreign resorts and return to Britain without entering quarantine.

On Monday night Mr Shapps said that the plans would be reviewed every three weeks and exemptions with countries with similar levels of the virus could be introduced.

It has been originally raised as a possibility with Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

Mr Shapps continued to explain why ‘air bridges’ would be an improvement to the government’s strategy.

He said: “It is the case we should consider further improvements – for example, things like air bridges enabling people from other countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of coronavirus infection to come to the country.”

Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, also told the Downing Street press conference that the UK was “driving down our case rate, to the point where we are becoming an area of low incidence of COVID-19”.

He added: “Then it becomes more sensible to think about what the contribution of travellers from abroad might be.”

This week the Government is expected to announce a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals.

Anyone who breaches the quarantine faces fines of between £1,000 and £10,000.

The Telegraph reports that ministers are considering potentially unlimited fines for persistent offenders.

A senior Whitehall source has said: “We want to send a very clear signal to discourage people from breaching the quarantine.”

Magistrates would have powers in rare circumstances to levy unlimited fines if there were constant breaches or a refusal to pay.

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The government’s plans will only exempt visitors from the common travel areas including Ireland, Guernsey and Jersey, along with a “very limited” group of up to 30 professions or jobs, under the policy to be announced this week.

The bulk of exemptions will be 12,000 freight drivers a day bringing in food, medicines and vital supplies.

Others will be in specialist jobs protecting national security or critical infrastructure or required to meet international obligations.

These include diplomats, defence personnel, specialist engineers, some police and border officers, some Eurostar staff and North Sea oil rig workers.

The regulations will be enforced by Border Force officers with some support inland from the police, with thousands of furloughed immigration enforcement officers could also be deployed.

Some travel leaders have blasted the government’s plans for travel quarantine.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive branded the plans as “idiotic” and “unimplementable.”

He continued: “You don’t have enough police in the UK to implement a two-week lockdown.”

Lucy Moreton, professional officer for ISU, the immigration and borders union, said: “Britain is not an ID card country. We cannot challenge people who are walking about.

“You could post the fine to them but if they have gone back to the United States, there is no means to recover the fines.”

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Travel

Coronavirus lockdown latest: New figures reveal car journeys fall to lowest levels during

CAR journeys fell to their lowest levels yet during Easter Sunday’s lockdown, according to the latest figures by AA.

The AA said it has reviewed over 15,000 daily car journeys to establish travel patterns during lockdown.

These patterns show that compared to the normal level, there has been a 60 percent drop in weekday journeys, a 70 percent drop on Saturdays and a roughly 80 percent drop on Sundays.

Easter Sunday saw the biggest drop yet, again around 80 percent of the normal level, with Easter Monday increasing that by another 10 percent.

The data suggests that Britons are following the government’s pleas to stay at home and take pressure off the NHS, even despite the Easter break.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “For the most part, families can car drivers respected the lockdown and didn’t revert to the usual Easter exodus, travelling to see friends or out into the country for exercise.

“Overall, we expected some increase in car journeys after the initial collapse as essential workers and volunteers took to the road again.”

But Mr King said that police measures “may keep car journeys at their current low level for a while yet”.

Speeding remains an issue on some roads, though, claimed Mr King, who stressed that “there is no excuse for speeding” even though roads are a lot quieter.

He said there had been “several” crashes over the past few days which “ties up” NHS resources amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Earlier AA data from a poll of over 16,000 of its members had suggested that over 20 million Easter journeys would be cancelled.

More than 78 percent of those polled before the lockdown said that they had been planning to drive somewhere for an outing during the Easter weekend.

But this new data suggests that most of those who had planned to get away over the weekend did not end up doing so.

Meanwhile, the AA also said that it is offering free roadside assistance to all NHS staff, which Mr King claims has already been used hundreds of times.

He said: “We will also have almost 200 patrols helping Ambulance Services across London, the east of England and the west Midlands to help service, repair and get more ambulances on the roads to help save lives.”

The AA did not give any details as to how long this free NHS assistance might last.

In other travel news, police in Craven, North Yorkshire, said that traffic levels in the district have fallen to levels not seen since the 1950s.

This has coincided with an increase in cyclists taking to the roads, the Craven Herald reports, with police urging cyclists to take special care.

Sergeant Kirsten Aldridge of North Yorkshire’s major collision investigation team said some drivers had been “dramatically exceeding” speed limits, and warned this puts pedestrians and cyclists “at significant risk.”

She added: ”We’d remind drivers that they should always expect the unexpected around each corner, especially at the moment, and pass cyclists at a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when it is safe to do so.”

The lockdown restrictions have coincided with a huge drop in air pollution levels across the UK and elsewhere, possibly as a result of fewer cars on the road.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced by car exhausts, is down by around 40 percent across the UK compared to the same period last year, the BBC reports.

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