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NEWS


Operators cancel but airlines still fly


Travel Weekly reporters


Operators moved to cancel holidays to Spain following the government’s imposition of quarantine restrictions on returning travellers, but major airlines continue to operate – adding to consumer confusion. EasyJet, Ryanair and British


are ‘a disaster’ It’s a nightmare for


package operators. For most, this summer has gone – people are not going to book now


The source insisted: “Health has


to come first, but why do it in this way? We haven’t put a ring of steel around Leicester.” An aviation source agreed: “That


is the bulk of the summer season gone for Spain and there was barely any notice. Everyone understands the health concerns, but the Balearic and Canary islands have lower infection rates than here.” A leading airline source said: “The


government always warned us this could happen, but it happened quicker than anyone thought. It’s a real blow. “A concern is it will lead


passengers to make very late booking decisions. Airlines won’t know how


travelweekly.co.uk


to plan capacity. That will be very difficult.” Another source warned:


“This will tip some over the edge depending how long it is before the advice changes.” Abta warned of “major financial


implications” and noted: “The costs associated with stopping and starting operations are considerable.” The government announced


five relatively minor additions to its ‘Covid safe travel’ list on Friday, including Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia, but still omitted Portugal. The Department for Transport


added to the confusion by confirming it would update the list “on a weekly basis to reflect the shifting international health picture”, but added: “The border health measures remain subject to review every 28 days in England.” It warned: “We are prepared to respond rapidly if the health situation of a country


deteriorates.” i Agents scramble to help, page 7


Airways were maintaining schedules this week, although easyJet Holidays cancelled Spanish holidays for the remainder of July. Ryanair chief executive


Michael O’Leary insisted: “We don’t have cancellations. All our bookings are non-cancellable. “We expect to see a drop in


UK-Spain bookings and an uptick in no-shows. [But] the fares are non-refundable.” Alan Bowen, advisor to the


Association of Atol Companies, said: “Agents and operators who have bought seats on Ryanair or easyJet are obliged to give a full refund. The airlines will say the flights are operating and refuse to refund.” A senior leisure industry


source agreed, saying: “Airlines will continue to fly and that puts consumers in an invidious position. There will be no refunds


and no travel insurance.” Tui UK cancelled holidays


to mainland Spain following the quarantine announcement on Saturday and followed up with cancellations to the Balearic and Canary islands when Foreign Office advice on travel to the islands changed on Monday. Jet2 initially announced it


would continue operating but on Monday suspended flights and holidays to mainland Spain up to August 16 and on Tuesday suspended operations to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza up to and including August 9. Trade bookings will be


automatically cancelled with a full refund, while customers in resort will be contacted and advised of their options. The company promised those


due to travel after these dates an update “once we receive more information from the government”. Tui UK managing director


Andrew Flintham said: “We’d like a nuanced policy [from the government]. If the travel advice is you can’t go, then clearly quarantine should be in place. If we can have a regional policy, it


would be easier to communicate.” i Business, back page


Jet2 has suspended flights and holidays to mainland Spain until August 16


30 JULY 2020


5


PICTURE: Shutterstock


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