As countries across Europe lift their lockdowns and offers from airlines flood our inboxes once again, the possibility of going on holiday this summer doesn’t seem too out of reach with air bridge holidays.
Especially as with further measures being lifted on July 4, many of us are preparing for a staycation somewhere in the UK – but a holiday abroad is looking more likely now with the potential introduction of air bridges.
These air bridges would allow travel between the UK and other European countries, without having to quarantine when you arrive in the country.
Since the lockdown, many people have had to seek travel advice for how reschedule flights and hotel bookings for either later on in the year or next year, leading to huge losses for airlines and other holiday companies. The idea of air bridges would open up the possibility of once again being able to go on holiday and resume business for the travel industry.
With the warning that air bridges would soon be announced, it's been reported that Ryanair will run over 1,000 flights from this week, breaking out of their reduced schedule that has been running for essential travel during the lockdown. They are resuming 500 flights a day, however compared to the number of passengers they would normally have in July, this is still greatly reduced.
Other airlines such as EasyJet and British Airways, after being forced to close a number of airport bases across the UK, have also confirmed they are resuming many of their flights.
So when are these air bridges being announced? And how will it affect our summer holiday plans?
When are the air bridges being announced and is there any news on air bridges?
Following the government’s official review of the UK quarantine on June 29, the Prime Minister was set to make the announcement about air bridges in the first few days of July. The announcement is now expected to happen today [Wednesday July 1], although the exact time of the statement hasn’t been confirmed.
Just like when early announcements were made in June for hairdressers to reopen, announcing the air bridges in early July would give the industry time to prepare for their reopening.
During a Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister confirmed that the measures were being review on June 29. He said, “The current advice is still that people should avoid non-essential travel.
“We will be reviewing the situation on the 29th, we will be looking at the quarantine rules and what we can do to create air bridges.”
When will air bridges start?
The list of countries permitted in the air bridges is likely to be published today [Wednesday July 1]. This could mean that the very first air bridges will start from later this week, on July 4.
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has previously said that there would be no announcement on air bridges until the government fully reviewed the quarantine, which happened on June 29.
Therefore, we can expect the announcement to be happening soon and air bridges to be opening up in the coming weeks for many countries. However, other countries have informed the UK that that they would not happy to accept arrivals in the coming weeks.
Haris Theoharis, the Greek tourism minister, has suggested that UK arrivals into Greece would not be welcome. The country has reported fewer than 200 deaths from coronavirus and will be waiting on the advice of health experts to determine when it’s safe. It’s expected that there will be no direct flights into Greece from the UK until later in July at the earliest.
Which countries will be included in the air bridges?
It’s understood that more than 15 countries are on the agreed list of air bridges being announced. They include France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway and Finland, as these countries undertook a strict lockdown and now have a low R-rate.
However, there are questions around whether countries like Portugal, which saw a rise in new cases around the capital city, and Sweden, who did not impose a strict lockdown and has a high rate of infection, will be included.
What are the current UK quarantine rules on travel?
From March 23, it was advised that no one undertake "non-essential" travel - whether around the UK or abroad. This was in the effort to reduce the spread of the virus and take the country into a tight lockdown.
Since June 8, all passengers entering the UK – with some exceptions – have been required to go into quarantine for 14 days. Those who ignored the rule could be fined up to £1,000 and police were permitted to use “reasonable force” to make sure travellers followed the rules.
Many hope that the introduction of these travel corridors is a signpost to the government slowly releasing more lockdown measures and allowing free movement across Europe for UK residents.