Holiday operators and airlines across the world have been forced to drastically amend their itineraries and upcoming plans as a major global lockdown came into place. However, as countries around the world lengthen measures and the UK moves forward with an “indefinite” travel warning in place, many holiday and travel providers have released updated statements on when travel will resume as normal.
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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising Britons to avoid any international travel unless it is essential.
Initially, this ban was put in place for 30 days, but on April 4 the FCO changed this to a now “indefinite” period of time.
A statement from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab explains: “This change in travel advice reflects the pace at which other countries are either closing their borders or implementing restrictive measures in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
“Often there is little or no notice when countries take these steps and restrictions are also being imposed in areas where no cases of coronavirus have yet been reported. They are therefore very difficult to predict.
“Though the UK border remains open, to help repatriate those Britons who have been stranded abroad, many countries across the globe have shut their borders to both foreigners and their own citizens.
“British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so.”
As a result, the travel industry has been impacted severely, causing the cancellation of holidays and travel plans.
Though the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice is constantly under review, it is not known when the travel ban will be lifted, and as a result many holiday providers and holidaymakers alike are in a time of limbo.
These are the latest updates from some of the UK’s most popular holiday providers:
Following the FCO’s decision to change the travel warning from a period of 30 days to indefinite, Jet2 made the decision to amend its early summer schedule.
The airline now plans to recommence operations on June 17.
A statement on the Jet2 website says: “In view of the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to recommence our flights and holidays programme on June 17.
“We are keeping this decision under constant review, in line with guidance from Governments and the relevant authorities.”
Any customers with holidays before this will now see their plans axed.
The operator added: “If you’re travelling before this date, unfortunately, your booking will be affected as our flights won’t be operating.
“We’re contacting all affected customers about their options… we’re currently experiencing high volumes of calls right now.”
Budget-favourite Ryanair has announced it will be halting all commercial travel until June 17 following the government update.
However, some flights do continue to fly as part of a repatriation effort.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: “As most EU countries have imposed flight bans or other restrictions, over 90 percent of Ryanair’s aircraft are grounded for the coming weeks.
“We will comply with these restrictions at all times. We are working with EU Governments to try to keep some minimum flight links open for emergency reasons, even though the passenger loads on these flights is very low.
“All the aircraft are disinfected daily. With low loads, social distancing is being optimised on-board.
“We ask all passengers to cooperate fully with our crews who are doing their best in difficult times to maintain vital links to/from Ireland and to/from the UK to facilitate our passengers and their families to deal with emergencies that may require urgent travel over the coming days and weeks.
“Ryanair apologises sincerely for the unprecedented grounding of our aircraft fleet, and any schedule disruptions this may have caused, but we must all work together with EU Governments to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on our citizens and our health services.”
The airline is waiving change fees for customers who had journeys planned on cancelled routes.
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Holiday provider TUI implemented measures to postpone its operations for a period of five weeks, meaning it does not anticipate business to resume before May 14.
It has similarly amended Marella Cruise sailings and TUI River Cruises in line with the latest government restrictions.
Marella Cruises sailings travelling on or before May 31 and TUI River Cruises sailings travelling up until and including November 25 are also affected.
This means anyone with plans prior to May 14, or on any of the affected sailings, will now be faced with cancellations.
On Twitter, the company issued a statement saying: “These are uncertain times for all of us and we don’t underestimate the impact on those of you with holidays booked.
“For that reason, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel all holidays up to and including 14th May.”
A spokesperson added: “We are constantly monitoring the situation and will start taking people on holiday again as soon as we are able to do so.
“At this point in time, nobody can accurately predict when that will be, so, for the time being, we will keep a close eye on our programme and continue to amend and adapt timings in line with the latest global travel advice.”
A statement on the company website further emphasises its promise to customers, reading: “The safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff is our highest priority but we know it’s an unsettling situation and that you may have some concerns about your holiday.
“We promise you that should your holiday become affected by changes in travel restrictions or government advice meaning that it can no longer operate as planned we will proactively contact you to offer a range of flexible options.”
Customers are able to claim a cash refund for the price of their holiday, including accommodation and flights.
If you have a holiday booked where you are travelling on or before May 14, you are able to move it to a later date for free.
If your booking is for a flight and a hotel stay, not as part of a package, the same will also apply.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and will start taking people on holiday again as soon as we are able to do so,” said a spokesperson
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Orange-tipped carrier easyJet has not yet released a predicted date for when commercial flights will resume.
The airline continues to work alongside the government as part of its repatriation effort, according to Dominic Raab.
At the time of writing the airline’s website will not allow for bookings to be made for April, though customers can still book flights in May. It is not clear if this is set to change.
A spokesperson said: “At this stage, there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights as this will depend on national travel restrictions and customer demand.
“We have an ongoing rolling cancellation programme in place and have taken April off sale so more customers cannot book onto flights during this month.
“Once a flight is cancelled we will inform passengers and provide them with their options.”
The airline’s website adds: “We are currently cancelling our flights on a seven-day rolling basis to manage the number of contacts going to our Customer Service Team.
“This ensures that we’re able to help and support our customers as best we can.”
Customers are allowed to switch their dates of travel free of charge.
British Airways is one of the main carriers working in partnership with the government in a bid to rescue Britons currently abroad as part of a £75 million repatriation effort.
Though the airline is still running some select routes, its usual schedule has been dramatically slashed.
A spokesperson for British Airways said the airline will continue to carry out essential functions such as maintenance, towing and cleaning in order to be ready to start up again with short notice.
In a statement, British Airways explained the closure of Gatwick Airport operations, saying: “Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick.
“We are contacting affected customers to discuss their options.”
The airline is still operating flights from Heathrow Airport.
Though there is no clear answer as to when regular service will resume, but the airline will be working in accordance with the FCO.
The airline has said customers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a refund, a voucher, or to rebook later on, however, due to increased demand it seems the best way to contact BA is by telephone.
A statement on the BA website says: “We recognise the increased uncertainty that coronavirus (COVID-19) may be causing. This situation will remain under review and we will continue to provide coronavirus (COVID-19) travel and service updates.”
It adds: “To allow greater flexibility, we are enabling customers to change their destination, date of travel, or both for free, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to Sunday 31 May 2020, as well as any existing bookings that depart up to Sunday 31 May 2020.”
The British carrier, owned by Sir Richard Branson, has announced it will be suspending passenger flights in a push to serve cargo-only journeys.
Cargo is now to be carried in both the cabin and the hold to maximise its ability.
Virgin received “special dispensation” from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for this in order for the aircraft to “carry even more essential goods.”
The cargo-only period will last from 20 April to 26 April.
However, the airline is also working in partnership with the UK government as part of its repatriation effort where necessary.
The carrier says it is reviewing its passenger offering on a daily basis and has not provided a direct indication as to when the first commercial flight will next depart.
A spokesperson for the airline told Express.co.uk ”Following the rapid acceleration of COVID-19 and extensive travel restrictions, coupled with a sharp drop in customer demand, Virgin Atlantic is continuing to review its flying programme each day and has made the decision to move most of its current scheduled services to cargo-only services from 20 April until 26 April.”
“The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has provided Virgin Atlantic with special dispensation to carry cargo in the cabin as well as the cargo hold, so that we can carry even more essential goods, to ensure global supply chains keep running and transporting essential medical supplies into the UK at this time of crisis.”
“Virgin Atlantic will operate both scheduled passenger and cargo services from 27 April, and continue to work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help facilitate repatriation flights and bring UK nationals home.
“Customers who have booked flights on these amended services will be contacted with information about alternative options or they can visit virginatlantic.com for more information, including customer centre contact details. We’d like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by these changes and appreciate our customer’s patience while we navigate this unprecedented situation.”
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