Foreign holidays have been dealt a fresh blow after British Airways scrapped more summer flights.
Passengers were left dismayed by the latest round of cancellations that include trips in July and August – after overseas travel is scheduled to resume on May 17.
Europe is grappling with surging cases and yesterday a UK health minister warned the entire Continent could be put on the ‘red list’ of countries requiring hotel quarantine.
And the Government announced today it will introduce a £5,000 fine for rule-breakers caught taking an illegal foreign break during lockdown.
Foreign holidays have been dealt a fresh blow after British Airways scrapped yet more summer flights
British Airways insists the cancellations were not due to the evolving situation with the pandemic but a routine scale-back of flights to reflect the view of IATA, the airline trade body, that foreign travel will not resume to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.
The pared-back routes include fewer flights to Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.
Sources played down the flight cuts as ‘business as usual’ – and suggested more could be added in the future if there is scope.
Yet would-be holidaymakers were exasperated that flights they had booked for after lockdown were even being scrapped.
One said: ‘I’m getting welcome back emails so booked flights in good faith having had my first vaccine dose.
‘Yesterday two were cancelled for mid July. Today, another cancelled for mid August. This is absolutely ridiculous, you either want passengers back or you don’t!’
Under Boris Johnson’s roadmap to exit lockdown, foreign holidays were pencilled for May 17, but this now looks to be in doubt because of a third wave on the Continent.
Passengers were left dismayed by the latest round of cancellations that include trips in July and August – after overseas travel is scheduled to resume on May 17
European countries are tightening restrictions, and Germany has announced an ’emergency brake’ lockdown to tackle the rise in cases.
Just over 10 per cent of adults have received their first vaccine dose across the EU, compared to the UK’s figure exceeding 53 per cent.
To strengthen control at the borders, ministers will introduce a £5,000 fine for anyone who travels abroad without a reasonable excuse, such as essential work.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this will be reviewed on May 17, but European holidays were plunged into doubt yesterday when his junior minister, Lord Bethell, suggested the entire Continent could be placed on the red list.
Mr Hancock today said ‘we don’t have any plans to do that’ but said it’s too early to tell if summer holidays will get the green light.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the £5,000 fine will be reviewed on May 17
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I entirely understand people’s yearning to get away and have a summer holiday, and we’re looking at that question right now as part of the global travel taskforce, which will report in the middle of next month.
‘The earliest that will take any steps will be May 17 but, obviously, we’re taking a cautious approach because we want any openings that we make to be irreversible.’
He said a traffic light system for travel with red and amber lights is in place at the moment but more details on the way forward would be published around April 12.
‘Until then, I’m afraid, as people have got used to over the last year, frankly it is wait and see.
‘Because we’ll only make steps that we think are safe but, on the other hand, we do understand, of course I understand, how people want to be able to get away in the summer, especially after the last year that we’ve all had.’
The Government’s gradual easing of lockdown will be done in four stages – March 29, April 12, May 17 and June 21, if the data allows.
Yesterday the Prime Minister said that Britain will inevitably feel the bleak situation on the Continent, saying their Covid woes will ‘wash up on our shores’.
British Airways said: ‘We are sorry that, like other airlines, due to the current coronavirus pandemic and global travel restrictions we are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule.’