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Airlines on standby as UK set to update travel plans

Coronavirus NewsJun 24, 2021 11:21
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By Samuel Indyk – The UK travel & leisure sector was on standby on Thursday ahead of an expected announcement from UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on the government's latest plans for international travel.

Traffic light system

In a welcome boost for some airlines, the UK government is expected to add some popular holiday destinations to the ‘green’ list, meaning passengers returning from these countries will not have to quarantine upon their return.

Malta, Madeira and the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza were “on the cusp of being added”, according to British tabloid The Sun.

Ministers are meeting today to thrash out the plans but, as things stand, no final decision has been made.

Turkey is expected to stay on the ‘red’ list, making the popular tourist destination a no-go area.

Testing and vaccinations

The UK may also be close to relaxing rules regarding testing for Covid-19. As things stand, people have to provide three negative tests when the return to the UK but ministers are said to be considering dropping the requirement to one, potentially saving families hundreds of pounds in private testing costs.

Elsewhere, there were reports this week that the government may relax quarantine rules for passengers returning from ‘amber’ countries if they have been fully vaccinated. It is unclear whether children would be permitted to avoid quarantine regulations under these new guidelines.

Current countries on the ‘amber’ list include Spain, France, Greece, Italy, and Portugal.

More details on this plan may be forthcoming today, but it is not expected that any of those popular destinations will be added to the government’s ‘green’ list at this time.

A minor inconvenience

Even if the UK does decide to relax its rules for international travel, other countries may still decide it is not worth opening their borders to UK travellers, given the spread of the ‘Delta’ variant.

The UK has one of the most effective vaccination programmes in the world, with over 31mln people currently fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but this still has not stopped the spread of the 'Delta' variant.

With European countries trailing the UK in regards to number of people vaccinated, it may not be worth the risk of opening up to Brits who could take the virus with them.

Italy recently said UK arrivals would have to quarantine upon entering the country and other countries such as Germany and France have similar measures in place.

“In our country, if you come from Great Britain you have to go into quarantine,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

“And that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see,” Merkel added.

Airlines, such as IAG (LON:ICAG), Wizz Air (LON:WIZZ), Ryanair (LON:RYA) and easyJet (LON:EZJ) will be carefully watching the announcement, as will travel operators Tui (LON:TUIT) and Jet2 (LON:JET2). Jet engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce (LON:RR) will also be hoping the summer travel season can get going as the company relies on its engines clocking up the miles.

Airlines on standby as UK set to update travel plans

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