Sunseekers who rejoiced yesterday when the Government gave the green light to foreign holidays have been warned that flights could be cancelled because of the continuing travel chaos.
Confusion over air corridors and ever-changing international restrictions means airlines are now planning their schedules ‘hand to mouth’, putting thousands of trips at risk of abrupt changes.
Several easyJet customers have had their outgoing flights either cancelled or the time changed – and, as more firms open up other routes, the problem is set to continue.
Summer holidays abroad for UK citizens are still under threat despite the Government announcing several 'air corridors' to other nations this week
Airlines expert John Strickland, director of JLS Consulting, said: ‘A number of airlines are planning their schedules on a very short term, hand to mouth basis.
‘Several airlines have planned flights and put them on sale, only to find that Government policies and regulatory conditions in one country or another have meant that it is not possible to operate and have then had to cancel them and go back to square one.
‘I don’t believe airlines are deliberately or maliciously cancelling flights.’
Experts have claimed that Government dithering over the quarantine scheme has cost the beleaguered travel industry an estimated £5 billion.
The controversial measure has seen just two people fined since its introduction on June 8 but brought the struggling sector ‘to its knees’, critics said.
Several airlines, such as easyJet, are still cancelling or changing their flight times due to the confusion surrounding the air corridors
On Friday, Westminster finally published a list of 73 countries where people from England can visit without the need to isolate for two weeks on their return home.
However, it was branded ‘shambolic’ after a row with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – while not all the overseas countries on the list are accepting UK visitors.
Lee Hunt, managing director of Debden Travel in Woodbridge, Suffolk, said the chaos meant tour operators were unable to plan and customers were reluctant to book.
He added: ‘The late market is now non-existent because of the confusion. Last year, we made £1.7 million from late bookings but now we’ve not got one.
'In January, we were a business with a healthy bank balance and no debt. Now we’ve fallen to our knees.’
The global Covid-19 lockdown has already cost the UK travel industry £20 billion and last week easyJet and Airbus announced more than 3,700 jobs would be axed.
Kane Pirie, owner of Vivid Travel, told The Mail on Sunday that delays to lockdown and beginning a quarantine programme months after other nations had cost the UK dear.
He said: ‘We could have saved at least one out of the four months of disruption... if the Government had made better choices with less dithering.
The UK Government released a list (pictured) of several countries where UK citizens could travel to and not have to quarantine upon their return
The introduction of quarantine-free travel applies to people in England from Friday and the change covers most of Europe, but not Portugal – a popular destination.
Greece and St Lucia were named as quarantine-free places but UK arrivals are not welcome until later this month. Austria and Barbados want the production of a recent negative coronavirus test upon entry.
Experts said tourists need to check lists compiled by both the Foreign Office and the Department of Transport for restrictions.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘The Government’s attempt to relax international travel restrictions has been a complete mess, leaving millions with no clarity over whether their holiday can go ahead and less chance of getting their money back if they can’t go.’
Portugal did not make the list of approved countries despite the UK having 28 times more deaths related to Covid-19. The move was made after an outbreak in Lisbon.