Birmingham Airport announces Covid-19 drive-through service

Birmingham Airport has said that Cignpost ExpressTest, a division of Cignpost Diagnostics Limited, will open a drive through Covid-19 screening service at the airport.

The new facility offers a Fit to Fly testing service that passengers will be able to use, following the resumption of international leisure travel on May 17. The site will be beneficial for members of the public who are asymptomatic and so do not qualify for NHS emergency testing, but require a negative result either to visit family members, or to fly abroad.

The tests on offer are priced at £80 per person for travel passengers and £99 per person for the test-only service. ExpressTest is delivered using the latest gold standard PCR equipment that is fully CE-IVD certified, and tests are carried out by trained Screening Practitioners.

Christian Corney, CEO of Cignpost ExpressTest, said: ‘At Cignpost ExpressTest we are passionate about providing customers with very best testing experience as they prepare to travel. We have seen increasing desire for testing since international travel resumed in England and expect to see increased demand in the coming days and weeks. Our new drive through centre at Birmingham Airport builds upon a strong pre-existing partnership and will be a great addition to our nationwide services. We are proud to bring Covid-19 screening services to the local community, and whether for personal or business travel, we remain committed to delivering the best possible service at an affordable price.’

Al Titterington, Terminal Operations Director of Birmingham Airport, said: ‘We are pleased to have developed and expanded the fit to fly testing service here at the Airport. Following the success of Cignpost, which opened in January within the terminal building, this new drive through service ensures our customers can book tests with even more ease and convenience.

‘Here at Birmingham we are continually putting our customers first by ensuring that as thetravel restrictions change we have the right facilities in place to assist our customers and guarantee they are fully prepared for their trip.’

The drive through facility expands on an existing partnership between Cignpost ExpressTest and Birmingham Airport, with a walk-in site being open since January. The facility will accommodate 8drive-through lanes with a testing capacity of 8,064 tests per week.

The Birmingham Airport facility is one of ten new Cignpost ExpressTest sites to open across the UK before the end of June. Besides being a selected provider of discounted COVID-19 testing to British Airways, the company also provides gold-standard PCR tests at Gatwick, Heathrow and Edinburgh Airports, as well as at Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Since the resumption of international leisure travel on May 17, Birmingham Airport has seen an increase in passenger numbers with airlines restarting several new flights to Portugal, Madeira and Greece.

Jet2holidays registers record demand for package holidays in Summer 2022

Jet2holidays, the UK’s leading tour operator to destinations across the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, has said that it has registered strong bookings for Summer 2022.

According to bookings data from Jet2holidays, more people have already booked for summer sun destination for the year ahead when compared to the same time in previous years. The data also reveals that the company has registered an increase in bookings for package holidays from July, which continues through the rest of the school holidays and Summer 2021.

The data from Jet2holidays also shows that customers are making up for lost holidays during the pandemic by booking 5-star getaways. Further, the company has seen an increase in the number of customers booking a luxury 5-star holiday through its Indulgent Escapes brand. The data shows that all destinations are benefitting from the demand for Summer 2022 holidays, with Turkey, Cyprus and Greece looking particularly popular for next summer.

Jet2holidays will operate a busy programme for Summer 2022, with over 70 sun and city destinations on sale from across its ten UK bases. In response to this strong demand from UK holidaymakers looking to get away next summer, the tour operator has recently announced the launch of flights and holidays to Sardinia and Sicily for Summer 2022.

With the addition of the two Italian islands, there are six brand-new destinations on sale for Summer 2022 with Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, in addition to Sardinia and Sicily, including Toulouse, Iceland, Tivat (Montenegro) and Athens. In addition, the companies have also added more flights and holidays to a wide range of popular destinations such as the Canary Islands, Mainland Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘There is a huge desire amongst UK holidaymakers to get away on their holidays and this is clear in the demand for both Summer 21 and Summer 22 holidays. Customers are continuing to look ahead with real confidence and as well as booking in their getaway for this summer, it is clear from the bookings data that they are also looking to secure that all-important holiday for Summer 22, with our ATOL protected package holidays proving to be the perfect fit for them. All the package holiday benefits that customers get through booking with Jet2holidays, combined with the need for people to give themselves something to look forward to, is proving to be extremely attractive and this has fuelled strong demand for Summer 22 package holidays.

‘As ever, we have responded to that demand by adding more destinations to our offering for Summer 22 and putting on additional flights and holidays to our most popular sunshine hotspots. This huge choice, alongside the fact that all our package holidays are ATOL protected and come with award-winning customer experience, means that more people than ever are looking ahead and have already booked that all-important Summer 22 getaway.’

Loganair announces new direct routes connecting East Anglia with Norwich, Exeter

Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, has announced the launch of new air routes connecting East Anglia with the South-West of England with flights to Norwich and Exeter.

The service, which starts on July 12, will operate a four flights per week service across the summer season on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday – moving to Monday and Friday flights from September onwards. The 70-minute flight will be operated on Loganair’s 49-seat Embraer 145 jets and can be a more convenient way to travel than rail connections via London or the 320-mile road journey.

Fares start from £49.99 one-way including all taxes and charges. All Loganair fares include a free checked baggage allowance, and tickets are on sale from today at www.loganair.co.uk. The service links existing Loganair destinations. Norwich is already served from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Jersey, and Exeter from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. Loganair also said that its Edinburgh-Norwich services, originally planned to resume in September, will now recommence on July 12.

Loganair Chief Executive Jonathan Hinkles said: ‘We are very pleased to expand our commitment to Norwich and Exeter with this direct service, connecting two important UK business and leisure locations. We’re sure this new connection will be warmly welcomed by customers travelling for work reasons and by those – just as soon as they can – travelling to visit friends and family.

‘The need for domestic connectivity has been clearly recognised by the UK Government with its stated intention to reform Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights. There is no doubt the high level of APD has historically rendered such links as Norwich to Exeter economically difficult to sustain.

‘The fact that 42 of Flybe’s 46 lost domestic routes have now been restored also shows the resilience and the importance of supporting the UK’s domestic airlines and this ‘team effort’ across the industry is something of which we should we all be proud.’

Exeter Airport Operations Director Stephen Wiltshire said: ‘It’s marvellous that Loganair is re-establishing the link between Exeter and Norwich, which is a key route for business, tourism and reconnecting family and friends kept apart by the pandemic.

‘Importantly, this launch fills another gap left by the collapse of Flybe, with almost every domestic destination from Exeter now being restored by Loganair and other carriers over the coming months.’

Norwich Airport Managing Director Richard Pace said: ‘We’re delighted Loganair is re-establishing the link between Norwich and Exeter. We also welcome Loganair’s decision to restart the route to Edinburgh in July. In launching these routes, Loganair is putting its trust in the UK Government to deliver on its promise to reduce domestic Air Passenger Duty which is critical to the recovery and sustainability of domestic flying.’

British Airways starts to trial Covid-19 document certification on ba.com

British Airways has said that customers eligible to travel to India will now be able to upload their negative Covid-19 test results and other travel declaration forms directly into their booking on the airline’s website ba.com, in advance of travel.

Running on all flights from London to India, the new trial is part of the airline’s efforts to simplify the departure process as it prepares for the return of international travel. The trial will certify that customers have the correct documentation needed for their flight before they arrive at the airport, allowing them to check-in online and avoid queuing in the terminal.

Customers will receive an email three days before the date of departure, directing them to the ‘Manage My Booking’ function on ba.com where they can find the relevant entry requirements, including a negative Covid-19 test result and a digital declaration form. The customer will then upload each document via ‘Manage My Booking’ which will be certified by the airline within six hours to ensure they meet the entry requirements.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘At British Airways we are preparing for the meaningful return to international travel in the coming months. This means doing everything we can to simplify the journey for our customers, allowing them to travel with confidence and create the best possible seamless, frictionless experience in a new Covid era.

‘We know that innovation and technology hold the key to unlocking international travel. We are already offering access to travel app ‘VeriFLY’ on selected routes and IAG has been helping develop ‘Travel Pass’ with IATA. Now it’s also time to look at what we can offer through our own website. The key benefit of customers being able to upload the correct travel documentation into their booking, is that it enables them to check-in online, speeding up the airport process. We are continually exploring the best possible options to help our customers return to the skies, safely.’

British Airways is planning to roll this trial out to more destinations over the coming weeks and is also working to add this functionality for those destinations to its British Airways app. This will enable customers to securely upload the documentation for their booking directly from their mobile device. The required documentation is decided by the country of destination that a customer is travelling to, which could include negative Covid tests and / or vaccination information.

Digital health travel passport, VeriFLY, is currently available on the airline’s flights from the UK to the US and Canada, as well as all inbound flights to the UK. The app is optional for customers and can be downloaded to a mobile device. The app helps meet the entry requirements of their destination by providing digital health document verification and confirming eligibility.

UK travel businesses registered ‘We’re Good To Go’ to get global ‘Safe Travels’ stamp

VisitBritain has said that tourism businesses in the UK registered to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard scheme will automatically receive the international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Launched last year by VisitEngland in partnership with the tourism boards of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, The ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme has been recognised by the WTTC as meeting its international global standardised health and hygiene protocols and for its role in supporting the recovery of the UK tourism sector.

Starting today, Friday 26 February, ‘We’re Good To Go’ registered businesses in the UK can log into their online account to download the Safe Travels stamp. The WTTC stamp enables travellers to recognise destinations around the world which have adopted global standardised protocols – so they can experience ‘Safe Travels.’ The protocols for the WTTC’s global Safe Travels stamp were designed with the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines’ and developed alongside leading industry associations and international organisations.

VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe said: ‘We are delighted that businesses certified to We’re Good To Go can also automatically register for the WTTC’s global Safe Travels stamp, recognising the standard of protocols and processes we have in place in the UK. This is also testament to the hard work and commitment of tens of thousands of businesses right across the country who have adapted and innovated to safely meet new ways of working and are already ‘good to go’.

‘This international stamp sitting alongside our We’re Good To Go mark also serves to reinforce that ‘ring of confidence’ for visitors that UK tourism businesses, attractions and destinations have clear processes in place to welcome them back safely as travel restrictions are lifted.

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara said: ‘We are pleased to see VisitBritain, the tourism agency for one of the world’s most popular destinations, implementing enhanced health and safety measures that are in line with our global protocols, to ensure safe travel, and we are delighted to recognise its efforts through the WTTC Safe Travels stamp.’

More than 44,000 businesses across the UK are registered on to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard confirming their adherence to the latest Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and have the required processes in place to aid social distancing and cleanliness, reassuring customers, staff and local residents.

Newcastle Airport to meet new Netherlands travel requirements

Newcastle Airport has recently said that that all passengers travelling to the Netherlands from the UK will have to show two negative COVID-19 tests.

The Government guidelines permit travelling for a number of reasons including for work and education. In addition to the PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, passengers will also be required to take a Rapid Antigen test at the Airport immediately before departure.

KLM currently operates up to two flights a day from Newcastle Airport to Amsterdam and to onwards connections. The Airport launched an onsite COVID-19 testing clinic in November and has confirmed that it is one of a few airports in the UK that will be able to provide pre-departure Rapid Antigen tests for passengers.

Richard Knight, Chief Operating Officer at Newcastle Airport, said: ‘With only 36 hours’ notice we have been able to work with our testing provider NPH Group to set up a brand new clinic which will provide Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests for passengers travelling to the Netherlands.

‘The KLM route to Amsterdam is a vital connection between the North East and the rest of the world therefore it is imperative that passengers who need to travel for essential reasons are able to.

‘Passengers travelling tomorrow or in the coming days and weeks can find more information on the Rapid Antigen testing procedure on the NPH Group website and also pre-book their appointment.’

Newcastle Airport has worked with two local medical companies to provide a convenient and efficient on-site testing clinic for passengers. Passengers flying to Amsterdam with KLM are advised to pre-book a Rapid Antigen appointment prior to their flight on the NPH Group website: https://www.nph-group.co.uk/

Ireland announces new rules for passengers arriving from Britain

The Government of Ireland has announced new rules that passengers originating from Britain or South Africa will be required to have evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ result of a COVID-19 PCR test obtained within 72 hours of arrival into the state.

As per the new rule, which started Saturday, January 9, passengers travelling from Britain or South Africa will be required to present evidence of their negative or ‘not detected’ result before boarding their aircraft prior to departure, and will be required to produce this evidence to Immigration Officers on arrival at Dublin Airport. It will be deemed an offence if passengers arrive in an Irish airport without evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ test result and may be subject to prosecution, punishable by a fine not exceeding EUR2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.

The rule is applicable to passengers whose journey originates in either Britain or South Africa. Those who only transit through an airport in Britain as part of their journey to Ireland will not be required to provide evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ COVID-19 PCR test. Passengers who arrive in Ireland mainly for the purpose of travelling onwards to another state and do not leave the airport are also not required to provide the evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ test.

For any urgent travel requirement, passengers can consult the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate for advice and receive consular assistance before commencing their journey, Dublin Airport said.

Ireland is currently implementing the EU ‘traffic lights’ approach to travel, which applies to countries in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA). Passengers entering the State from red, orange and grey regions are requested to restrict their movements for 14 days, though this may be waived in certain cases. This applies to all people entering the State, even if they have no symptoms. The details are available on European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) website.

The request to restrict movements for 14 days can be waived for passengers arriving from an orange region, if they have received a negative/not detected PCR test result during the three days before arriving in Ireland. In this case, passengers are requested to have supporting evidence of the negative test in their possession, according to Irish Government guidelines.

Passengers arriving from red regions do not have to continue to restrict their movements for the full 14 days, if they have a negative/not-detected result from a PCR test taken at least five days – a minimum of five days – after arrival in the State, the airport said.

Ireland bans flights from Britain amid new COVID strain

Following the identification of a new strain of COVID-19 in England, the Irish Government has banned all arriving passenger flights from Britain, Dublin Airport said in a release.

The ban is in place until 23.59 on Thursday, December 31, 2020. The ban applies to all passenger flights with the exception of repatriation flights. The ban does not apply to cargo flights.

Passengers affected by this ban should contact their airline in relation to their specific flight. The ban will be reviewed by the Irish Government before Friday, January 1, 2021, the Airport said.

Separately, Dublin Airport has said that it has launched a handy new feature that enables customers to receive flight updates direct on their mobile device via Twitter, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

The new feature will keep customers updated on the status of either a departing or an arriving flight. Customers will receive status updates directly on the phone, with information such as gate number, boarding times, and delays for departing flights. For arriving flights, customers will get information such as when the flight is on approach, and which baggage belt luggage will be delivered on.

The website also now has a chatbot feature, which will answer many of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) that customers might have. The chatbot window pops up automatically when the Dublin Airport website is accessed. Customers may simply type in the question, or browse the different categories to find an answer to the query. Customers can also subscribe to flight alerts through the chatbot feature, the Airport said.

Cunard to extend pause in operations amid ongoing travel restrictions

Cunard, the British luxury cruise line, and part of Carnival Corporation, has said that it has extended its pause in operations due to the ongoing travel constraints across the world.

According to the cruise line, voyages departing on board Queen Mary 2 up to and including May 28, 2021, and on-board Queen Elizabeth up to and including June 4, 2021, have been cancelled. Departures on Queen Victoria remain unaffected and are scheduled to resume May 17, 2021.

Customers who have had their voyage cancelled will receive a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit, providing an additional 25 percent on any amount paid, to redeem against a future voyage. The 125 percent Future Cruise Credit can be used on any new booking made by the end of December 2021 and on any voyage available at the time of booking. Voyages are currently available through to early 2023. Guests preferring a refund should complete the form on Cunard.com.

Cunard President Simon Palethorpe said: ‘Our extension to the pause in operations is the result of the ongoing restrictions on cruising in the UK and around the world, and recognizes the significant lead times to return to service once those restrictions are lifted.

‘We are extremely sorry for the disappointment we know this will cause. We know how much careful consideration goes into planning a holiday and apologize that our guests now have to wait a little longer to travel once again with Cunard.

‘Guests are able to use their enhanced 125% Future Cruise Credit to book for later in 2021 or for one of our newly announced 2022 voyages. The tremendous response already to our 2022 voyages, put on sale just a few weeks ago, clearly demonstrates our guests are eagerly anticipating travelling again with us. We’re equally looking forward to the time when we can welcome back our guests.’

London Stansted Airport unveils new Covid-19 testing facility

London Stansted Airport has said that it has launched a new Covid-19 testing facility, as part of a move by its parent company, Manchester Airports Group (MAG).

Accordingly, a full range of tests – RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Antigen and Antibody – will be available to all passengers in a new facility inside the main terminal building. They will be delivered in partnership with airport services and travel medical provider, Collinson.

MAG, the UK’s largest airport group, also became the first operator to give its passengers the chance to book discounted pre-flight testing appointments on the high street at selected Boots UK stores.

Boots offers an in-store RT-PCR Covid-19 testing service, which returns results within 48 hours from more than 50 stores across the UK, specifically for customers who do not suspect they have Covid-19. MAG passengers will be able to access a five percent discount through the airport’s website. Airport testing prices through Collinson start at £40 for Antibody tests, £50 for Antigen tests, £79 for RT-LAMP tests and £99 for RT-PCR tests.

Steve Griffiths, Managing Director, London Stansted, said, ‘As England emerges from a ban on international travel, we know our passengers are keen to start flying again, but many of Stansted’s most popular destinations require a negative test before you arrive in the country.

This new facility will make the process of showing you’re infection-free when booking a holiday as easy and cost-effective as possible in the current circumstances. Our new booking portal makes it easy to select the right test for your destination, and at the location that is most convenient for you.

This also means Stansted is perfectly placed to support the introduction of a UK arrivals testing regime, which will enable travellers to reduce the length of time they need to self-isolate if they test negative.

Subject to the relevant tests securing government approval, this could free people from quarantine after just five days. This is the latest example of MAG leading the way as we look to work with Government and the rest of our industry to get Britain flying again.’

While some governments allow pre-departure tests in order to shorten or completely alleviate quarantine requirements in the destination country, others require them in order to gain entry. Passengers will also be able to book the tests they need to shorten their self-isolation period upon return under the UK Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme. The scheme, announced last week, will launch on December 15 and allow travellers arriving from higher risk countries to reduce their period of quarantine by taking a test five days after they arrive in the UK.

MAG’s testing services are the first to be offered by an airport group at multiple locations across the country. The service will cater for both outbound and inbound testing, and adapt as Government travel requirements change.