easyJet holidays to provide further customer protection on holidays

As holidaymakers demand increased security and flexibility, easyJet holidays has launched its new Protection Promise, providing protection in the event of travel disruptions amid Covid-19 risks.

According to new research, more than 33 million Brits have had their holiday plans disrupted this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, while more than half (53%) of Brits are only willing to book a holiday abroad if they feel confident their money is protected. However, despite ongoing travel restrictions, a report from easyJet holidays into consumer travel trends has revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of Brits plan to still go on holiday abroad in the next three months, rising to 37% in the start of next year. Almost two in five (38%) are even willing to quarantine for two weeks on their return in order to get away, with just over one in five (21%) saying that not having a holiday or break away has affected their mood.

In response these consumer needs, easyJet holidays is launching its new Protection Promise, a guarantee of flexibility and protection for customers. The new, long-term customer policy is in addition to the short-term commitments the company has in place to support customers’ bookings impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included a promise to cancel any holidays where there is a known quarantine or self-isolation requirement in the destination and any customer refunds have been processed in an average of 12 days.

Matt Callaghan, Customer Director at easyJet holidays, said, ‘Consumer confidence in booking a holiday abroad has taken a huge hit this year and travellers have different priorities so at easyJet holidays we know, given the restrictions continue to change, we must adapt to this new reality. That’s why we’re launching our new Protection Promise, setting a benchmark for customer flexibility in the industry and encouraging travellers to book their holidays with the reassurance that if things change they are protected. And this isn’t a short-term move, this is a fundamental change to what customers can expect whenever they book with easyJet holidays.’

The report from easyJet holidays also revealed that COVID-19 has made Brits reconsider their priorities, four in ten (40%) proactively look for destinations that have a low rate of infection, while three in ten (31%) said they now prefer self-catering or self-contained holidays.

easyJet holidays’ Protection Promise offers customers: a Refund Guarantee in the event of a change of travel plans, offering a full refund, including their deposit in credit, up to 28 days before departure and free of fees; a chance to pay for their holiday in instalments with no fees and only pay in full 28 days before they travel, Best Price Guarantee; Freedom to Change until 28 days before departure and ensure a return of deposit, if plans change, up to 28 days from departure.

Eurowings resume flights between Newcastle and Dusseldorf

Eurowings has resumed operations between Newcastle and Dusseldorf – the tenth airline to restart flights from the North East’s largest airport.

The airline had stopped flying between the two cities in April following the COVID-19 pandemic, but has restarted operating three flights every week and plans to increase to six flights per week from November. Eurowings will operate the route on its Airbus A320 aircraft which will provide more than 1,000 seats between Newcastle and Dusseldorf each week.

Nick Jones, Chief Executive of Newcastle Airport said: ‘We’re delighted to see Eurowings return to the Airport and look forward to welcoming passengers for their trips to Dusseldorf. The connection between the two cities has been established for many years and continues to be a very important connection for the region’s business and leisure passengers.

‘There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for the aviation industry however it is positive to see the tenth of our airline partners resuming operations from our Airport.’

Newcastle Airport had announced its Ten Point Plan of measures ahead of passengers returning in June. The plan ensures the terminal is safer for all and includes mandatory face mask wearing, and hand sanitiser stations.

Eurowings is the first German airline to launch a free middle seat that can be booked in advance of the flight. The new offer can be booked in all seat rows and on all Eurowings routes within Europe – subject to availability. The free middle seat is priced at EUR18 per flight. Currently, the new service can be booked via the Eurowings Service Center +49 180 6 320 320.

‘The positive feedback during the test phase showed us very clearly that our guests often want more comfort and distance on board. We therefore assume that the free middle seat will become a very important product for travel in the future,’ said Eurowing’s CEO Jens Bischof.

Cunard extends stoppage of operations, confirms itinerary changes for 2021 and 2022 World Voyage

British cruise line Cunard has said that will be extending its stoppage of operations from November 2020 until March 25, 2021 for its ship Queen Elizabeth; until April 18, 2021 for Queen Mary 2 and until May 16, 2021 for Queen Victoria, due to issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cunard president Simon Palethorpe said: ‘We are so sorry to all those guests who were due to sail on any of the cancelled voyages and for the disappointment this news will cause. After very careful consideration and reviewing the latest guidance, we simply do not feel it would be sensible to start sailing again with our current schedule so we have reviewed future itineraries.

‘Queen Elizabeth has returned to the UK and with ongoing uncertainty over the re-opening of many ports and countries, it is sadly not practical to continue her planned itineraries for 2021. Therefore, in addition to the pause in operations, all of Queen Elizabeth’s sailings due to depart between March 26, 2021 and December 13, 2021, in and around Australia, Japan and Alaska, will be cancelled.

‘These voyages will be replaced with a programme of shorter duration European holidays ranging from three to 14 nights, departing from Southampton. These will start at the end of March 2021, with a series of scenic voyages around the coast of Cornwall, the west coast of Ireland and the Scottish Isles. There will also be short breaks to Amsterdam which will include an overnight in the city, as well as voyages to northern and southern European destinations including Norway and the Iberian coast, with several of these itineraries featuring overnight city stays.’

All new itineraries on board Queen Elizabeth will be available to book from September 29, 2020. ‘Queen Elizabeth’s new programme will be completed with a series of seven and 14 night voyages in the Mediterranean, sailing from Barcelona. It is an exciting new programme which I am sure will have great appeal,’ Palethorpe said.

‘Additionally, recognising the immense disappointment of those on board Queen Mary 2’s curtailed World Voyage this year, and the cancellation of her World Voyage in 2021, we are delighted that Queen Mary 2 will sail a classic World Voyage in 2022. This will replace her scheduled sailings departing January 3, 2022 to April 3, 2022, including the voyage to South America,’ he added.

The new 118 night adventure will depart roundtrip from New York on January 3, 2022 and include calls to Greece, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and Bali before returning to Southampton via Abu Dhabi, Oman, Italy and Portugal. The ship will sail through the Suez Canal both on the outbound journey and on return. It will be bookable, either as a full world voyage or as one of six sectors, from September 8, 2020.

Cunard will be contacting guests and travel agents who are impacted and all guests who have had their voyage cancelled will automatically receive an enhanced 125 percent Future Cruise Credit or alternatively can fill in the website form for a 100 percent refund.

Full details of the changes to operations and options available to guests due to travel on cancelled voyages, as well as the latest updates, can be found at www.cunard.com, it said.

Heathrow announces extended summer getaway season

Heathrow has announced its summer getaway schedule for 2020, offering travellers and holidaymakers increased choice in direct, short-haul travel.

Heathrow’s new summer network follows airlines’ decision to consolidate some of their operations into the UK’s Hub Airport. While most of the summer routes are being offered by Heathrow’s biggest carrier – British Airways, the airport has also welcomed new carriers, such as Czech Airlines.

Passengers flying from Heathrow now have a choice of over 25 new sunny, short-haul and low-cost leisure destinations to fly directly to, including numerous routes that are new to the airport – Dubrovnik, Genoa and Verona. Holidaymakers looking for a beach getaway are offered over 13 weekly flights to Greece via Thessaloniki, Rhodes and Heraklion. For passengers planning an Italian vacation and riviera waters, there are 10 weekly flights to Naples and three weekly flights to Genoa. And for those looking to stay closer to home, there are now five weekly flights to the Cornish coast, via Newquay and 21 weekly flights to Jersey for an island break.

The airport’s new routes come after strict safety protocols and the adoption of advanced technologies to protect passengers and colleagues from the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 at the airport. This includes UV technology to ensure the continuous disinfection of moving handrails, UV-ray cleaning robots, and self-cleaning anti-viral wraps fitted to security trays. ‘Fly Safe Pit Stop’ points are now available across the airport, where passengers can pick up face masks, anti-viral wipes and hand sanitiser free of charge.

Ross Baker, Heathrow’s Chief Commercial Officer said: ‘Heathrow is ready for another summer getaway season, with new technology and processes now in place to ensure our passengers are safe to fly. With our departure boards filling up with short-haul, low-cost destinations, travellers may be surprised with what’s on offer at the UK’s Hub airport and find themselves at Heathrow’s doors for the first time. Whether you are new to the airport, or if we are welcoming you back, Heathrow is ready to help you travel to reunite with your friends and family, to visit somewhere exciting and new, or to find some much-needed calm and relaxation.’

The food and retail experience at Heathrow Airport has also been transformed ahead of the summer schedule. In line with UK Government guidance, a wide range of retail is now open, from World Duty Free and Dixons Travel to the Harry Potter Shop. All shops, cafes and restaurants accept contactless payment, and by using the Heathrow app and Heathrow Boutique service passengers can ensure an entirely contact-free experience, ordering takeaway food to pick up and pre-reserving items before even getting to the airport.

Tui to restart flight programme on July 11

Tui, a multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Germany, has announced that it is to fly to eight destinations when it restarts its flight programme on July 11.

The company’s restart has been put back from the initial July 1 target due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions. The eight destinations available from July 11 are in Spain and Greece, following a recent announcement that travellers arriving in Spain would not be subject to the two-week quarantine as currently imposed on arrivals to the UK .

The destinations that will be available are; Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu in the Greek Islands, Tenerife and Lanzarote in Spain’s Canary Islands, and Mallorca and Ibiza in the Balearics. Subject to advice from the UK government, Tui also plans to increase its number of destinations to 19 by the end of July, served by five UK airports. Face masks will be compulsory for travellers on the company’s flights, while other antiviral measures by the airline include digital check-in, increased aircraft disinfection and social distancing arrangements at destination hotels.

The company has also said that it will only fly customers to destinations that will not require quarantine measures on arrival, and that in-resort support will be available to its customers around the clock, seven days a week.

Further destinations could be made available soon, as Tui’s commercial director Richard Sofer has said that the company has ‘absolute confidence’ that the British government will ultimately scrap its quarantine measures for travellers from abroad entering the UK.

Gatwick to reopen North Terminal to accommodate more flights

Gatwick has introduced several measures to protect the health and safety of both passengers and staff, as the airport prepares to reopen its North Terminal today, June 15, with several airlines planning to scale up their flying programmes.

As part of the new safety measures, passengers will be required to wear a face covering within the airport with Gatwick staff mandated to wear face coverings in customer interface areas of the terminals. Face mask vending machines will also be made available at the airport. Good hand-hygiene will be encouraged with sign-posted hand washing facilities and numerous hand sanitising stations – including touch-free models. The airport will also ensure frequent deep cleaning of common-use surfaces throughout the airport with teams available to respond to any passenger concerns on cleanliness. Social distancing procedures will be in place at check in, security, gate rooms, seating in departure halls and in restaurants, bars and shops; and Perspex screens will be throughout the terminals, including check in desks, and gate rooms.

Gatwick will now also increase its operating hours to 0600-22.00 and easyJet has announced that it is restarting flights from the North Terminal on June 15 alongside Wizz Air, Ryanair, Belavia, Vueling and Blue Island.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick Airport, said: ‘Having remained open throughout this pandemic the wellbeing and safety of our passengers and everyone that works at the airport remains our top priority. We have introduced a range of new social distancing and hygiene solutions to help this happen so we can all help protect each other when travelling through the airport. We want people to understand that airports and air travel is a safe environment in this COVID-19 travelling world.’

‘We are pleased to be in a position to re-open the North Terminal and we look forward to welcoming back easyJet as they restart flights alongside our other airlines. The recent Government announcement regarding the 14-day quarantine period for passengers arriving into the UK is, in our opinion, already having an impact on the start of air travel recovery. We accept the Government’s absolute priority is the protection of public health, but we continue to push for regular, country by country reviews of quarantine regulations, based on medical evidence.’

Passengers travelling through the airport are encouraged to check the travel guidance before they leave home https://www.gatwickairport.com/at-the-airport/passenger-services/coronavirus/, Gatwick said. In addition to passenger guidance available online and via passenger app, digital and physical signage advising passengers of the new health measures is displayed throughout the airport. Further, a new film will also be aired that informs passengers of the new guidance and what to expect when travelling through the airport.

Cunard extends suspension of operations

Cunard, the luxury British cruise line, has said that as a result of the continued impact of Covid-19, it will be extending the suspension of its operations.

Cunard currently operates three ships: Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, with destinations including Europe, the Caribbean, the Far East and Australia. For its ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Cunard is cancelling all sailings that were due to depart up to and including 1 November, 2020 and for Queen Elizabeth, departures up to and including the 23 November, 2020.

Cunard President, Simon Palethorpe, said, ‘With many differing restrictions across countries, people’s ability to move freely and safely across borders remains seemingly someway in the distance. For Cunard, where we celebrate having a truly international mix of guests and sail all over the world, this becomes particularly impactful. We also need to better understand the implications Covid-19 will have on board our ships. We are therefore working, at the highest level possible, with government bodies, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the CDC – and Public Health England, as well as the industry collective body – CLIA – and other expert medical professionals to review every aspect of a holiday with us.’

‘Whilst we have always taken pride in having the highest levels of health and safety, we are looking at enhanced protocols across all aspects of ship life and experiences on shore. We will only return to service when we have a comprehensive restart protocol with the stamps of approval and accreditation from the most trusted and informed sources,’ Palethorpe added.

Cunard will be communicating with all guests, and their travel advisors, who are booked on affected voyages, it said. As Cunard has done earlier during this pause period, guests who are booked on cancelled voyages will automatically be given a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit. This can be redeemed against any new booking made by the end of December 2021 on any voyage that’s on sale at the time of booking.

Eastern Airways to resume flights from Southampton this month

Eastern Airways, the UK regional airline, will resume services from Southampton Airport, including to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Dublin, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds Bradford and Teesside later this month.

Starting Monday June 22, the Humberside Airport-based airline will commence a daily weekday service to Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Aberdeen, while services to Leeds Bradford and Teesside will be introduced on Monday June 29 and Dublin services will commence on Thursday July 23. Frequency of services will be increased as appropriate through July, August and September to help restore the business and leisure connections. The flights are on sale through www.easternairways.com

Roger Hage, Eastern Airways’ General Manager Commercial & Operations, said: ‘We are pleased to announce that our Southampton flights are returning from 22nd June with a carefully considered initial frequency to support the major regions of the UK and ensure regional connectivity returns given its vital role in recovering economic prosperity. We will continue to increase frequency including the return of weekend services as demand returns along with adding new routes to our network. All services will ensure the safest procedures for our customer care are offered in conjunction with our airport partners.’

Neil Garwood, Managing Director at Southampton Airport, said: ‘As we restore airport operations, we are absolutely delighted to welcome back Eastern Airways, providing vital connectivity across the UK, and enabling the recovery of regional economies.’

Following the collapse of Flybe, Eastern Airways had stepped in to ensure regional connectivity from Southampton on an expanding network prior to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.

As part of new safety measures in light of COVID-19, Eastern Airways’ usual complimentary on-board service will be limited to enable reduced customer contact. A full anti-bacterial wipe down of all touch points between every service operated and a comprehensive night-stop sanitisation will be implemented. All fares will include 15kg of complimentary hold baggage as part of the service.

Delta to restart London Heathrow passenger services from Detroit

Delta has recently announced plans to restart its passenger services from the United States to U.K as demand for air cargo is driving demand for passenger travel.

Beginning May 21, 2020, flights will operate three times weekly between Detroit and London. The flights will also be available for customer travel.

‘Keeping global supply chains open is more important now than ever and these new services will enable suppliers to meet the needs of their customers,’ said Shawn Cole, Vice President – Delta Cargo. ‘We’re receiving daily requests for shipments of medical supplies as well as goods that keep businesses in operation. By also opening these services to passengers, we can facilitate essential travel between the U.K., Europe and United States.’

With the COVID-19 pandemic still underway, Delta has implemented several measures to keep its customers safer on board and in airports. These include: sanitizing the aircraft before every flight; using advanced air circulation systems with HEPA filters that help extract viruses; capping capacity throughout the aircraft to ensure onboard customer spacing; adjusting the boarding process to encourage more space for safer travel by boarding all flights from back-to-front; providing supplies directly to customers when available, including hand sanitizers; and requiring employees and customers to wear a face mask or appropriate covering when travelling.

‘The safety of our customers is always our number one priority, and their wellbeing is the reason we have implemented these wide-ranging measures,’ said Roberto Ioriatti, Vice President – Transatlantic. ‘The advent of COVID-19 is changing the way we fly and that’s why our focus on cleanliness will remain in place always. We hope that these efforts will give our customers greater peace of mind when they step on board.’

Cargo will be transported between Chicago and London, via Detroit, increasing the shipping opportunities for cargo customers. The Heathrow service will be operated using a Boeing 767-300 with 26 tons of cargo capacity.

The flight will depart London Heathrow at 1255 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving into Detroit at 1630. On return, the flight will depart Detroit at 1800 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving into London Heathrow at 0855 the following day. The flights will operate to and from Heathrow Terminal 2, as Terminal 3 is currently closed. There are limited retail outlets open at both airports and all lounges are currently closed.

Ryanair to restore 40% of scheduled flights starting July

Ryanair, the Irish low cost airline, has said that it plans to return to 40 percent of normal flight schedules from Wednesday, July 1, 2020, subject to Government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted, and effective public health measures being established at airports.

Ryanair will operate a daily flight schedule of almost 1,000 flights, restoring 90 percent of its pre-Covid-19 route network. Since the Covid-19 flight restrictions in mid-March, Ryanair has been operating a skeleton daily schedule of 30 flights between Ireland, the UK and Europe. From July, Ryanair will restart flying from most of its 80 bases across Europe. Full details of these routes, frequencies, flight times, and promotional prices are available on www.Ryanair.com

Ryanair is urging passengers to observe effective health measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus. These include fewer checked bags, check in online, downloading boarding pass via smart phone, as well as undergoing temperature checks at airport entry and wearing face masks/coverings at all times in the terminal and on board aircraft.

All Ryanair aircraft are fitted with HEPA air filters (similar to those used in critical hospital wards) and all aircraft interior surfaces are disinfected every night with chemicals, which are effective for over 24 hours. While temperature checks and face masks/coverings are key to this healthy return to service, social distancing at airports and onboard aircraft will be encouraged where it is possible.

On board its aircraft, Ryanair offers limited in-flight service of pre-packaged snacks and drinks, but no cash sales. All onboard transactions will be cashless. Queuing for toilets will be prohibited on board and toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request. Ryanair encourages passengers to regularly hand wash and use hand sanitizers in airport terminals.

Ryanair’s CEO Eddie Wilson said: ‘It is important for our customers and our people that we return to some normal schedules from 1 July onwards. Governments around Europe have implemented a 4 month lockdown to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. After 4 months, it is time to get Europe flying again so we can reunite friends and families, allow people to return to work, and restart Europe’s tourism industry, which provides so many millions of jobs.

Seats on all these flights are now on sale at www.Ryanair.com from 1 July, at prices which start from just EUR19.99 one way. We will continue to work closely with public health agencies to encourage our people and passengers to adopt practical and effective steps to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, in the best interest of our passengers, our people and our communities.’

As EU States emerge from their respective Covid-19 lockdowns, Ryanair will also require all passengers flying in July and August to fill in details (at the point of check in) as to the duration of their visit, and also their address while visiting another EU country. This contact information will be provided to EU Governments to help them to monitor any isolation regulations they require of visitors on intra-EU flights.