Coronavirus: How international airlines are responding to quarantine news

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·4-min read
PONTEVEDRA, SPAIN - JULY 21: People practice windsurfing on the beach of O Bao on July 21, 2020 in Pontevedra, Spain. The island of Arosa, Arousa in the Galician language, has an area of approximately 7 square kilometers. It has 36 kilometers of coastline, of which 11 are beach, with fine white sand. It is one of the tourist destinations in Galicia with the most influx of visitors. (Photo by Xurxo Lobato/Getty Images)
A beach in Spain as UK travellers face new quarantine rules. Photo: Xurxo Lobato/Getty Images

Holidaymakers and airlines are reeling from the UK government’s sudden imposition of strict coronavirus quarantine rules on travellers returning from Spain.

The new measures have thrown many holiday plans into disarray, leaving large numbers of customers unable to travel and others fearful similar curbs could hit more countries this summer.

Here is how leading travel and airline firms have reacted to Saturday’s (25 July) announcement, and how far they have resumed flights since lockdown restrictions began to ease.

TUI

Tui UK has cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain until 9 August, promising customers either full refunds or the chance to rebook with a “booking incentive.”

But flights to the Balearic Islands, which include Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, and the Canary Islands, which include Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, will continue.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, spoke out over the quarantine requirement for the islands despite official guidance against non-essential travel only applying to the mainland. “We’re really after a little bit more nuance.”

Tui UK (TUI.L) also said customers would be contacted about their options, and anyone currently in Spain should continue with their holiday.

The company had only resumed holidays on 10 July for the first time since March. The wider Tui company had said before the latest cancellations that it only expected to operate about 30% of its global capacity for this summer.

Ryanair

Budget airline Ryanair is operating flights to Spain “as normal” despite the UK government’s warnings against travel.

The company’s chief financial officer Neil Sorahan told the BBC on Monday: "As things stand, the market remains open, the schedules remain in place and we continue to operate in and out of Spain as normal."

READ MORE: Ryanair warns autumn second wave is its 'biggest fear'

He told Reuters Ryanair (RYA.L) had no plans to cut capacity on its UK-Spain flights in the medium-term. But he said all of Ryanair’s operation was “under consideration,” and criticised the quarantine rules as a “disappointing” announcement.

Ryanair have not announced any refund offer to customers unable or unwilling to travel on flights that go ahead as planned. But it had already waived fees for changing flights for July, August, and September to later this year.

Ryanair is also reconsidering plans to close bases at three Germany airports after pilots dropped their opposition to a deal that will cut pay and change working conditions to reduce layoffs.

EasyJet

EasyJet (EZJ.L) also said it was “disappointed” by the quarantine announcement, and said it planned to operate a full schedule in the coming days.

"We are disappointed that the government has decided to impose a quarantine requirement for those travelling from the whole of Spain since the increased occurrence of coronavirus is regional rather than nationwide,” it said in a statement.

But it said it would offer customers a voucher for the value of their booking or waive fees for changing flights if they no longer wished to travel.

The company started resuming mainly domestic flights from mid-June. It had said before the quarantine news that it hoped to able to serve around 75% of routes worldwide by the end of August with reduced frequency flights.

British Airways

Passengers arrive at Gatwick Airport, following an announcement on Saturday that holidaymakers who had not returned from Spain and its islands by midnight would be forced to quarantine for 14 days after Covid-19 second wave fears saw the European country struck off the UK's safe list. The decision was made after Spain recorded more than 900 fresh daily Covid-19 cases for two days running. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Arrivals at Gatwick as the UK government changed its policy on quarantine for arrivals from Spain. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

British Airways has said its flights will continue to operate as normal, but anyone who no longer wishes to travel to and from Spain can claim a voucher for future travel.

READ MORE: Germany considers compulsory tests for returning holidaymakers

But the company, owned by International Airlines Group (IAG.L) said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the new government guidance. "This is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry.”

Jet2

Jet2 has also said it will maintain flights and holidays to both mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands.

Normal terms and conditions will apply for flights to the islands, but it said it was “in the process of reviewing options for customers” due to travel to the mainland.

The company, owned by Dart Group (DTG.L), also urged customers to buy “appropriate travel insurance.”