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

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


PICTURE: Shutterstock

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