Philippine Airlines announces cancellation of special PAL flight to/from London

Further to its announcement on April 1, Philippine Airlines has said that it has been compelled to cancel the one-off flight to/from London Heathrow that was planned for April 4.

‘We are presently working on an alternative arrangement for passengers who had planned on taking this flight, and are in coordination with the concerned authorities and the UK Embassy. Once arrangements are set and operational challenges resolved, we shall make the appropriate announcement,’ it said.

Philippine Airlines announces special Manila – London flight to return stranded Brits

Philippine Airlines will operate a single round trip flight between Manila and London Heathrow on April 4 in response to an urgent public need amid the COVID-19 quarantine situation.

‘Despite the ongoing pause in its operations (with regular international and domestic flights suspended until April 14, PAL is operating this special one-off service to the United Kingdom to assist in the initiative of the Philippine and U.K. governments to help stranded travellers fly home,’ PAL said.

‘We shall coordinate closely with government authorities and adhere to strict global health protocols in the interest of the health and safety of all our passengers and crew members, ‘it added.

The Manila to London flight will be allowed to carry only UK nationals to comply with current COVID-related UK immigrations restrictions. The London to Manila flight will be allowed to carry only Filipinos, their foreign spouse and children, and accredited officials of foreign governments and international organizations, to comply with current Philippine travel entry restrictions.

The PAL flight is expected to leave Manila 08:10 AM on April 4 and arrive at London Heathrow at 3.10PM, and on return the flight will leave London Heathrow at 05:30 PM and arrive in Manila at 1:35 PM the following day. The PAL London service will be operated with an Airbus A350-900, which seats 295 passengers in Business, Premium and Economy cabins.

For flight bookings, passengers may call the Reservations Hotline (+63 2) 8855 8888, visit www.philippineairlines.com or may proceed to the NAIA Terminal 2 Ticket Office.

Gatwick Airport to consolidate operations into South Terminal from April

In response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, Gatwick has announced its decision to consolidate passenger processing and facilities into the airport’s South Terminal and to limit scheduled flights on its runway to between 1400 and 2200 hrs, with effect from April 1, 2020.

The airport’s operations will be consolidated into the South Terminal and the runway will remain open for emergency landings and diversions only outside these hours. The airport has made this decision to protect the health and safety of passengers and staff, and to protect the business following the reduction in passenger traffic, it said.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick Airport, said: ‘Gatwick is a resilient but also responsible business and during these extraordinary times we need to take unprecedented measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and passengers, while also shielding the business from the impact of Coronavirus.

‘I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my staff for their continuing hard work through this difficult time and to reassure them that we are taking these difficult decisions now, so that we are in a position to recover quickly and get back to generating jobs and economic benefits for the region and wider economy well into the future.

‘During these extraordinary times, we have also seen remarkable acts of kindness and community spirit in support of people who may need some additional help. To add to this, we will also be providing some opportunities so that any of our staff, who have time during this period of reduced operations, that choose to, can help support people in our local communities.’

The temporary closure of the North Terminal will last for a minimum of one month and the situation will be kept under regular review, the airport said. The North Terminal will be reopened when traffic increases and the government directives to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as social distancing, is relaxed.

The decision to scale back the airport’s operations has been done in consultation with the airport’s airline partners and any passengers booked on flights due to depart or arrive at Gatwick during this period are advised to contact their airline, it added.

Ryanair to operate minimum flights from Dublin and UK to serve emergency needs

As the health and safety concerns due to the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 continue, Ryanair has announced that it will operate minimum services from the UK and Ireland to meet emergency needs in the coming weeks.

According to a release by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Group CEO, the Ireland based airline is working to provide repatriation and rescue flights for many EU Governments including the UK. The airline is also offering its aircraft for emergency medical flights, including to/from China.

As most EU countries have imposed flight bans or other restrictions, over 90% of Ryanair’s aircraft will be grounded for the coming weeks. However, the airline will be working with EU Governments to keep some minimum flight links open for emergency reasons, though the passenger loads on these flights will be very low.

For the next week from Friday March 27 to Thursday April 2, Ryanair will operate daily or weekly flights to and from Dublin to London Stansted, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester and from Cork to London Stansted. From the UK, Ryanair will operate the return services to Dublin from London Stansted, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. In addition, the airline will operate services from London Stansted to Eindhoven, Lisbon, Cork, Berlin and Budapest. More information on the flight details at www.ryanair.com.

‘All these aircraft are disinfected daily. With low loads and no trolley service, social distancing will be optimised on-board, and we ask all passengers to cooperate fully with our crews who are doing their best in difficult times to maintain vital links to/from Ireland and to/from the UK to facilitate our passengers and their families to deal with emergencies that may require urgent travel over the coming days and weeks,’ O’Leary said.

‘Ryanair apologises sincerely for the unprecedented grounding of our aircraft fleet, and any schedule disruptions this may have caused, but we must all work together with EU Governments to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our citizens and our health services,’ he added.

British Airways increases flights from Nairobi to evacuate UK nationals amid COVID-19 crisis

British Airways has increased its flights from Nairobi to London as part of efforts to evacuate British nationals looking to return home amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, on online report said.

The move comes ahead of the ban on international flights that comes into effect on Wednesday midnight as a measure to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

The United Kingdom Embassy in Kenya has, in a tweet, urged individuals to reserve their flight as early as possible. ‘British Airways have opened up a small number of additional flights from Nairobi to London, for those wishing to return to the UK. We recommend you book on as early a flight as possible. Please visit http://ba.com to book,’ it said.

The British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott highlighted that the flights were only outbound. ‘I should stress that these are outbound (Nairobi to London) only. No one will be allowed to enter Kenya, so the London-Nairobi leg will be empty. What I now know is called a ‘ghost flight’,’ she said.

On Sunday Kenya Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that only cargo planes will be allowed to enter the country with the crew required to observe strict safety guidelines. The government further directed that individuals entering the country before the suspension takes effect will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expense.

The Cabinet Secretary added that countries wishing to evacuate their nationals must make arrangements to do so before Wednesday, March 25, midnight.

The government issued the directive after Kenya reported increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases. The Kenyan government confirmed nine new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 24, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 25.

London Heathrow announces response to Coronavirus

As the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to hit global travel and present unprecedented challenges for the aviation industry, London Heathrow Airport has issued its latest response on March 20.

Heathrow said that the airport will take steps to reorganise and shrink its operations, but will remain open throughout this crisis. The decision to keep the airport open will enable some passenger services to continue, as well as facilitating cargo operations which will safeguard vital supply lines for the UK.

However, a separate report said that the Heathrow has closed almost all of its business and first class lounges following a decree by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to shut down social hubs such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and gyms across the country.

Whilst remaining open for essential transport, Heathrow expects that its financial performance will be significantly impacted by the situation, saying: ‘We are taking a number of immediate actions to safeguard the financial resilience of the business. Initial steps we have already taken include reducing operating costs, cancelling executive pay, freezing recruitment and reviewing all capital projects.’

The management team will review further actions which may need to be taken as the situation continues to develop. It says that the business is well funded and in a robust financial position, with cash and committed facilities available of £3.3bn designed to maintain at least a 12-month liquidity horizon.

Commenting on the impact of Coronavirus on the aviation sector, a Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘The impact of Coronavirus is a significant challenge for the global aviation industry including Heathrow and our colleagues, airlines, suppliers and fellow airports. We are taking immediate steps to safeguard the financial resilience of our business including the protection of jobs, whilst providing relief to our airline partners and wider industry colleagues. This is a quickly evolving situation and we stand ready to take any further and necessary measures to support our colleagues and industry partners as this situation develops.’

UK cruise industry takes a break amid coronavirus concerns

The UK cruise industry has shut down operations as travel restrictions due to coronavirus/COVID-19 are in place around the world, including advice against all non-essential travel from the UK government for 30 days from March 17.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the first ever move to shut down the global cruise industry follows advice from both the UK and US governments that those aged 70 and over, and those with pre-existing health conditions, should avoid cruise holidays.

Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia), said: ‘As we face the prospect of new restrictions impacting our daily lives, we are all being tested, and I’m proud that our cruising community has been stepping up to the challenge. I know that everyone is working around the clock to adapt to the new landscape we find ourselves in, and are making every effort to keep customers informed with updated information, even as developments are seeming to occur so rapidly. Our customers should feel assured that our industry remains focused on their safety, health and well-being.’

Viking was the first cruise operator to announce on March 11 that it was suspending its river and ocean cruises for a temporary period. Operations are suspended for both Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises between March 12 and April 30. Viking is offering pre-booked customers within this period the choice of a future cruise voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund. Guests will have 24 months to use their future cruise voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise.

Most of the major cruise lines have made similar announcements, with cruise season now delayed until mid to late April. Cunard is suspending new cruises on its ships until April 11. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will return to Southampton and Queen Elizabeth’s itineraries are under review, the report said, adding that guests are being contacted regarding their voyage and options.

Marella Cruises, a British cruise line operated by TUI UK, offering cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia – has a restart date of March 28, while TUI has postponed the launch of its new river cruises.

Virgin Voyages – Sir Richard Branson’s brand new cruise line – has postponed a showcase tour planned for its first ship, Scarlet Lady and the maiden voyage. The inaugural season will start on July 15 and the maiden voyage will take place on August 7. Customers will receive a 200 per cent future voyage credit, and will also receive up to USD500 in on board credit if they rebook before June 30. It will also be possible to get a 100 per cent refund of the voyage fare for an impacted sailing, plus a 25 per cent future voyage credit. The line plans to launch another three ships after Scarlet Lady, the report said.

Blue Islands revises schedule to retain essential lifeline routes amid COVID-19

Blue Islands, a privately owned Channel Islands based regional airline, has implemented a revised timetable, effective from Tuesday March 17 until Sunday April 12 to ensure the maintenance of critical lifeline routes for essential travel.

The move as comes after announcements by the States of Guernsey and the Government of Jersey advising islanders to consider avoiding all non-essential travel to and from the islands, to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 outbreak.

The island communities rely on the services of Blue Islands for essential travel for medical purposes. In order to sustain these vital links, Blue Islands will operate morning and evening inter-island services between Guernsey and Jersey, as well as twice daily Guernsey to Southampton and Jersey to Southampton services plus a daily service to Bristol. The full revised schedule is available at https://bit.ly/3b2VU34 .

Neil Garwood, Managing Director of Southampton Airport said, ‘Maintaining connectivity to the Channel Islands from Southampton is of paramount importance to us. My team is fully committed to working with Blue Islands to keep this service going and effectively managing the impact of Covid-19.’

Customers who have booked on a service that is not operational while the revised schedule is active will be automatically moved to the nearest available flight and/or an alternative airport. They will receive an email notification advising of this change.

For better flexibility, passengers booked for travel up to and including 12 April may change their flight to another date and route without any change of fees, though subject to fare difference as applicable. Flight bookings and email updates is available at www.blueislands.com.

‘The health and safety of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority. Blue Islands is responding quickly to this situation and our team is working hard to meet our customers’ needs,’ the airline said, seeking the support and patience of customers to tide over through the crisis period.

Eastern Airways expands routes from Southampton with new Belfast City

From March 23, 2020, Eastern Airways will offer up to seven flights a week from Southampton to Belfast City Airport, which was a Flybe route formerly. The UK regional airline already commenced services from Southampton to Manchester and Newcastle last week, both initially at 11 flights a week along with a new route to Teesside International Airport in the north east of England with 11 flights a week.

Roger Hage, Eastern Airways’ General Manager Commercial & Operations, said: ‘Adding a Belfast City service from Southampton Airport, along with our new Manchester and Newcastle services which we started here today, following Monday’s launch to Teesside, is a significant expansion with up to 70 departures a week in total. We are ensuring Southampton is reconnected to the regions throughout England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

‘Initially the Belfast City route will be daily and reconnects the south coast of England to Belfast for business and leisure, while inbound passengers have the London rail connection within the hour and access to the major cruise offering via the port. By providing six destinations from Southampton, frequency and additional destinations will continue to increase.’

Neil Garwood, Managing Director of Southampton Airport, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have reconnected our route network to Belfast with Eastern Airways.

‘Belfast has long been one of our most in-demand destinations, and importantly this will once again enable vital regional connectivity with Northern Ireland. We look forward to enhancing our route network further with Eastern Airways.’

For several years Eastern Airways has provided a Southampton to Leeds Bradford service with up to 15 flights a week, and from April 27 2020 the carrier will offer a Southampton link to Aberdeen via Teesside International. From Southampton, the airline now provides scheduled flights to Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Teesside International, Belfast City and Aberdeen.

The Humberside Airport-based carrier offers a network of routes from airports including Aberdeen, Alicante, Anglesey, Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Humberside, Isle of Man, Leeds Bradford, London City, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton, Teesside International and Wick John O’Groats. Flights are bookable at www.easternairways.com and the airline provides complimentary on-board refreshments and a minimum of 15kg of free hold baggage.

easyJet holidays adds Tunisia to Gatwick schedule for summer 2020

easyJet holidays has recently announced the launch of holidays to Tunisia from London Gatwick for summer 2020.

As part of the programme, customers will have the choice of a Wednesday or Saturday flight to Tunisia each week from London Gatwick. Holidays to the new destination are on sale with the first departures scheduled from May 2020.

Paul Bixby, Strategy and Sourcing Director, easyJet holidays commented: ‘Tunisia is an incredibly popular place to enjoy a holiday and it’s great news to be able to add it as a choice for this summer. It offers amazing beaches, beautiful hotels, and all at brilliant value. All of our holidays to Tunisia that we’ve launched today are all inclusive, and for all of our holidays we include 23kg of luggage per person as standard as well as transfers on our beach holidays.’

As part of the holiday package, eight directly contracted hotels in Tunisia are on sale with easyJet holidays. The hotels on offer include the 4 Star One Resort Aqua Park and Spa suited for a family retreat on a private stretch of Skanes’ El Mouradi beach and 5 star Iberostar Selection Diar El Andalous, a contemporary hotel on the beachfront in Sousse complete with spa and a range of a la carte dining options. easyJet will expand the Tunisia range and add more hotels to give customers more choice.

The new holidays to Tunisia through easyJet holidays are all inclusive and some include free child places, offering customers an affordable summer holiday. easyJet holiday is available to book at www.easyjet.com/en/holidays.