Watch: Major airlines face up to likely winter blues
Airlines have been busy overnight working on plans to cancel the majority of leisure flights in response to England’s impending national lockdown.
Under new rules announced by the Government on Saturday, non-essential travel – both domestic and international – is banned from Thursday November 5 until at least December 2.
That takes all overseas holidays off the table during this period, as well as staycations, given that overnight stays away from home are not permitted.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy the PC Agency, tells Telegraph Travel: “Airline planning teams are already working on cancelling outbound flights after November 5, and it will be difficult to plan for December based on a lack of visibility as to what will happen closer to Christmas.
“In the short-term, airlines will be looking at combining scheduled flights returning to the UK, so that they balance not wasting money flying empty legs with the need to bring back passengers due to return in the coming month. They cannot be left stranded overseas.”
EasyJet was one of the first airlines to respond to the news, stating: “It is likely that much of the UK touching schedule [flights to, from and within the UK] will be cancelled during lockdown with our planned flying set to resume in early December.”
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Nobody wanted to see a second lockdown. Hospitality has operated safely for four months; this surge in infections appears to be caused [in part] by students going back to universities, and yet even now they are not sent home. I struggle with this strategy.
We’ve had good traction for the past few months, but I think this was inevitable. As usual, it’s hospitality that gets punished. We take the hit because other sectors can’t behave responsibly.
As much as it saddens us, on balance it’s probably better for the hotels to be locked down with furlough support, than our locations to be allowed to stay open but our feeder market areas being locked down. We will attempt to support our team and our community of guests and suppliers the best we can, and above all will try to keep everyone safe.
The Prime Minister’s announcement on the proposed introduction of a four-week lockdown in England is a further setback for the UK aviation industry.
With domestic and international leisure travel effectively grounded until December, airports and airlines will face a challenging period. London City Airport intends to remain operational throughout this time, but inevitably there will be fewer flights and passengers until the travel restrictions are relaxed.
While we welcome the extension of the furlough scheme, the lockdown measures make it even more urgent that the Government publishes its Aviation Recovery Plan as soon as possible. The Government must also expedite the work of the Global Travel Taskforce to produce a roadmap for restarting international air travel safely in the coming months, including via the introduction of an airport testing regime to replace quarantine.
British nationals currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
You should avoid travelling in or out of your local area, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. However you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including:
If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed. This includes holidays abroad and in the UK. It also means you cannot stay in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if you need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work purposes, but this means people cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.
Following the UK Government announcement yesterday (31st October) about additional restrictions in England, we are working with the Government to obtain much-needed clarity about what it means for those wishing to holiday overseas.
We are planning to operate as normal between now and Wednesday 4th November, so customers wanting to get away from the cold and gloom can still book and travel as normal. For customers due to depart up to and including Wednesday 4th November, and who do not wish to travel, they can amend their booking to a later date with no admin fee.
If flights or holidays are affected by any changes, we will contact customers to advise them of their options. Customers in resort should continue to enjoy their holidays as planned.
I’m staggered at the number of people asking me where they can fly to before Wednesday evening and stay for a month so as to avoid lockdown. Mind you, who can blame them? #NationalLockdown
— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) November 1, 2020
Reports that there is a rush of people booking to fly out on holiday before Thursday. That seems risky to me. There is every chance airlines will cut flights very quickly from later this week – leaving people stranded, and/or facing an extortionate bill for a new flight home.
— Rory Boland (@roryboland) November 1, 2020
Fuelled by booze, the women were becoming aggressive. Eventually, a dark warning was given that the miscreants would be apprehended by the ‘authorities’ at Stansted.
Needless to say this had all the impact of being threatened with the comfy cushion and a cup of tea. They took not the slightest notice. The masks remained only decorative embellishments to any part of their bodies apart from the relevant orifices.
Nothing could have exemplified better the futile impact of rules and regulations on people who won’t play ball and the utter meaninglessness of this Government’s authority when challenged.
munich – Andreas Gebert/getty
paris – THOMAS COEX/afp
colombo – LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/afp
rome – Fabrizio Villa/getty
madrid – JAVIER LOPEZ HERNANDEZ/EPA-EFE
My friend and I have an Airbnb booking which begins on Wednesday November 4 and finishes Sunday November 8.
We live in Surrey and the property is just outside Whitehaven, Cumbria. All we had planned was plenty of hill walking in the Lake District National Park. Is the stay legal, or should we cancel?
A little more than a week ago, Grant Shapps told the British public that they could now travel for leisure to the Canary Islands. On the back of this permission, thousands of people – many of whom haven’t gone away for months – decide to book a break in November. The return of the Canaries was heralded as a glimmer of light for the industry and for holidaymakers.
Now, that is torn to pieces.
You could argue that the virus means that decisions need to be made suddenly. But, the Government should surely have seen a week ago that it shouldn’t have been reopening travel corridors if there was a possibility that it would need to then completely reverse that decision and implement a lockdown.
The travel industry had no pre-warning about last night’s decision. Much of the industry was already operating with less than 50 per cent of its normal levels of business – and for some, even less. Both here and overseas, many people rely on the tourism industry for their income: entertainers, hotel and bar workers, etc. Covid has wreaked devastation on so many people’s lives.
If flights are still running, under current terms and conditions not all airlines will provide vouchers – meaning that people could lose their money if they are travelling soon.
Protections are stronger with a package. Since there is a ban on travel domestically or abroad, consumers should expect to see their package holidays cancelled and to get their money back.
Watch: WHO – COVID-19 tests should play a larger role in travel
Due to the strict rules on the management of businesses, statistics show that transmission rates [across hospitality] are as low as between 1 and 2 percent.
In our own businesses, we operate six sites across North Yorkshire: we have had a total of seven confirmed cases reported (four staff and three guests), all of which contracted the virus outside of our venues. We’ve had a footfall of approximately 50,000 people (either sleepers, diners or drinkers) through our doors in that time, which therefore equates to 14 cases in 100,000 – which suggests we may actually be the safest place in all of Europe.
Importantly though, in every one of these confirmed cases, we ensured that everyone who came into contact with them was tested. I’m happy to say that not one single person additionally tested positive, which shows that our systems and procedures are safe.
Yet, schools and universities have been back for seven weeks – and the virus has spiralled out of control. We have seen images and footage of students blatantly flouting the rules. Cities and towns with large student populations have been at the centre of the fastest growth, and yet we’re about to start a lockdown this week and let this group continue as normal.
In my opinion, it will be the biggest waste of four weeks, and put businesses and jobs at risk.
The only way a lockdown can work is if everyone abides by it as before – otherwise, I fear we’ll be in exactly the same position four weeks from now, but with more jobs lost and more businesses at risk of throwing the towel in.
Austria took a different approach to coronavirus, instituting the earliest – but shortest – lockdown in Europe – Getty
No one wore masks in the streets, but everyone slipped them on as they stepped indoors: no fuss, no hysteria, no virtue-signalling. If someone forgot, a member of staff would politely and unemphatically say a single word: “Maske.”
The famed Viennese coffee houses, like the Café Central were bustling. Perhaps not as much as 1913 when you could find Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky and Tito rubbing shoulders at the bar – before they were famous – indeed the city’s population has still not quite recovered to that period’s peak, but still the place had life.
It feels like a huge blow; we were one of the first sectors to be hit by the virus and the travel sector has had months of paying out refunds and rebooking (often two or three times) with no new enquiries coming in. There have been thousands of redundancies and the mental health toll is devastating.
The corridor to the Canary Islands finally provided some hope for the sector with many of our travel industry partners saying that this corridor had provided a lifeline for their businesses. This hope has now been slashed.
Of course public health must be a priority but support measures are desperately needed for the sector to prevent even more redundancies.
mecca – SAUDI PRESS AGENCY
vatican – afp
spain – ap
Following the Government’s sudden announcement today, easyJet will operate its planned schedule until Thursday and will be reviewing its flying programme over the lockdown period. It is likely that much of the UK touching schedule will be cancelled during lockdown with our planned flying set to resume in early December.
We will advise customers who are booked to travel over the next month of their options with a view to assisting customers to return to the country in the coming days.
The travel industry has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and this second lockdown could quite well be the final decisive nail in its coffin. Aviation in particular has taken a crucifying hit in its uphill struggle for survival and now faces the added hurdle of the ban on domestic and international travel.
My heart breaks for those in the industry who have been hammered by endless quarantine changes, are crying out for support which hasn’t been forthcoming and an effective testing system which has failed to materialise.
Action needs to be taken without delay to protect the industry or we won’t have one to discuss. The consequences of non-intervention are just unthinkable. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Let’s find it.
It looks as if airlines are going to be operating their schedules as ‘normal’ up to 00.01hrs on Thursday morning – and that means if the flight is taking off and Friendship Travel’s customers want to go, then they will.
Unlike before, airlines don’t seem to be rushing to repatriate travellers, so if you start a holiday before Thursday then it looks as if you can complete it as planned. Many of our guests are either able to work from home or are retired, and therefore are perfectly content to quarantine on return.
The stance taken by the FCDO, which is basically – don’t travel for fun anywhere at all – is increasingly being ignored by holidaymakers who are turning to insurance suppliers prepared to provide a degree of cover for Covid-19.
Friendship Travel will be operating whatever they can, as long as they can and as long as their single travellers want to go.
But make no mistake, the travel industry is being hung out to dry by the Government and it’s going to be a long hard winter.
I have #noconfidence, none whatsoever that the govt will use this lockdown time wisely, get track and trace working efficiently and prevent a 3rd wave. Hope I’m proved wrong but…
— Cathy Bartrop (@travelgurutv) October 31, 2020
Two pubs, 45 staff. 50,000 customers safely served under restrictions since July. Not one positive test, yet hospitality gets blamed and has to pay the price. Universities, 60% positive test rate in many, they are left carry on regardless. How is that ok?
— Oisín Rogers (@McMoop) October 31, 2020
Yorkshire rural businesses were enjoying a boost to their off-peak business, which of course is now interrupted. We’re asking visitors to postpone trips rather than cancel and enable tourism operators to carry over deposits.
2021 is already heavily booked up, partly due to postponed bookings – so if you want domestic holiday next year, book now. Most operators have flexible booking conditions.
We are yet again surprised and very disappointed by the latest government u-turn and subsequent chaos that this creates for the travel and hospitality sectors that are already on their knees.
Whilst we understand the need to balance the health of the country with the economic impact this causes, the lack of forward planning is causing chaos for both businesses and consumers. Nearly 1 in 10 jobs across the globe are associated with tourism, and the devastation being wreaked by such measures here in the UK and around the world is far-reaching.
All along we have asked that for travel to be possible, standardised testing now has to become the absolute priority. It is crucial now to solve this testing fiasco and get an international system in place, starting with Europe and then rolled out globally with common agreement between countries as the WTTC has called for over the last few weeks.
This is not a new request, but the ongoing delays have dire consequences for the industry. The fact the Government has offered nothing to the industry after eight months, continues to be a major challenge for us. We are therefore asking the Government to address this immediately.”
Makes me want to weep to think how ALL our travel clients have worked so hard to do the right thing by their clients since March and have watched every green shoot get cut down without a second thought from @grantshapps. And now this, just as there was a little winter sun hope.
— Four Corners PR (@fourcorners_cp) November 1, 2020
With @BorisJohnson set to lockdown. Let’s hope there is an appropriate economic package for what is the final nail in the coffin for the travel industry. @RishiSunak do not leave the travel industry behind. #SaveTravel
— Brett Gerrett ✈️ 💼 🚢 (@biztravelgeek) October 31, 2020
“[The] announcement that holidays in the UK and abroad will not be allowed under lockdown in England will mean a complete shut down for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic – but public health must come first.
We’re pleased to see the Government has recognised the significant impact the latest lockdown will have on businesses and has extended the furlough scheme until the start of December. The Government must also make good progress with The Global Travel Taskforce, ensuring a testing regime is ready to go as soon as lockdown is lifted.
“Anyone due to travel imminently on a package holiday should speak to their travel company to discuss their options.”
Following the recent announcement about additional restrictions in England from 00:01 on Thursday 5 November all TUI holidays between Sunday 1 November and Wednesday 4 November are currently due to operate as planned. Customers due to travel before Thursday are able to amend their holiday to a later date for free.
At this time we are unclear if holidays abroad from England are able to take place from 00:01 on Thursday 5 November, so we will be updating customers as soon as we receive clarification. If holidays are unable to take place, customers will be notified and offered the option to amend with an incentive, receive an ATOL-protected refund credit note with a re-booking incentive, or cancel and receive a full cash refund within 14 days.
Customers currently on holiday can continue to enjoy their holiday as planned.
Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach, and those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays.
This six month funding deal will ensure tubes & buses are available for Londoners to make essential journeys. pic.twitter.com/gg7Ah46Jup
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) November 1, 2020
The ban on international and domestic travel as a result of the new lockdown measures will crucify the travel industry. Whilst we absolutely support measures to keep us all safe, the reality of the new lockdown means many of our travel agency members will not last the year without a financial support package from the Government. Fifty per cent of jobs from our members have been lost since March and 80 per cent will run out of cash by May.
Since the summer the industry has been crying out for a testing regime to be implemented at UK points of entry and we are still waiting. Instead we have an increase in Covid cases, an ineffective yo-yo quarantine system, and a lack of travel corridors all of which impacts industry adversely because it happens to sell travel; with no recognition or sector-specific support.
This travel ban will now without a doubt lead to experience an unwelcome déjà vu in terms of providing advice and support to confused travellers and a rush on refunds which will again put pressure on travel agents whose bottom line is sinking lower and lower.
Holidays abroad are de facto banned. But I think some airlines will make it difficult to claim a refund. There is no requirement to cancel flights.
Another fight for consumers. And package holiday providers who will refund customers but face airlines refusing to refund them
— Rory Boland (@roryboland) October 31, 2020
There is no exemption for staying away from home on holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions. Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work.
Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach, and those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays, but are still subject to the requirements in England not to go out without a reasonable excuse.
Whilst today’s announcement is disappointing as it came with no travel industry consultation or pre-warning, we are contacting thousands of our customers to share their options and offer reassurance.
The steps the government has taken, which effectively prevents leisure air travel from the UK, has caused further disappointment for our customers who have been looking forward to well-earned holidays, many of whom have already faced disruption following the inconsistency of Covid-19 policies across the UK.
We need to work to get Europe flying again in a more structured European wide approach led by scientific data, with an effective testing system and consistent protocols across the continent. A standard scheme of testing across Europe is key as it will provide more certainty for customers and get them travelling with confidence again.
Watch: Can you catch the coronavirus twice?