easyJet to restart flying from June 15 with new bio-security measures

easyJet has said that it will resume some flights on June 15.

UK-based Services will be operating from London Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Belfast, and Isle of Man in the UK. In addition, flying will resume in France from Nice, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon and Lille, as well as from Geneva in Switzerland, Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain.

The flights will operate mainly on domestic routes alongside a minimal number of international routes. Several new measures will be in place to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of all customers and crew onboard. These include: enhanced aircraft disinfection for easyJet aircraft; customers, cabin and ground crew will be required to wear masks; there will also initially be no food service onboard flights, all of which operate on a short-haul network. The measures have been implemented in consultation with aviation authorities ICAO and EASA, and in line with relevant national authorities and medical advice through the airline’s chief medical adviser.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, commented: ‘I am really pleased that we will be returning to some flying in the middle of June. These are small and carefully planned steps that we are taking to resume operations. We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so that when more restrictions are lifted the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want to fly.

‘The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew remains our highest priority which is why we are implementing a number of measures enhancing safety at each part of the journey from disinfecting the aircraft to requiring customers and crew to wear masks. These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard in June.’

The airline has also released a video outlining the new measures being taken. The video can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/420797408/e0c5ccb978.

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.

Summer holidays to return? – Virgin Atlantic announces flying programme

Virgin Atlantic has announced its flying programme for summer 2021 with services operating from London Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast.

As countries start to lift travel restrictions and demand for travel has surfaced, Virgin Atlantic will steadily increase passenger flying in the second half of the year, with further gradual recovery through 2021.

Virgin Atlantic will operate flights to 24 destinations from London Heathrow during summer 2021, including Barbados, Delhi, Havana, Las Vegas, New York JFK and Orlando. It will also increase the recently launched route to Tel Aviv to twice daily. The airline will continue to operate flights from Manchester Airport, flying to Atlanta, Orlando, New York JFK, Barbados and Los Angeles during summer 2021. Seasonal flights from Glasgow and Belfast to Orland will also be offered.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: ‘As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand gradually returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back and flying them safely to their favourite destinations. We have taken the opportunity to pause, reflect and reshape our 2021 flying programme looking at efficiencies in our fleet and connectivity across our network, to ensure it is fit for the future, flying to the destinations we know our customers love to fly.

‘We’re delighted that our popular Tel Aviv service, which launched in September 2019, will now increase to double daily, whilst regional flying from Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast will continue to play an important part in offering choice to customers and connecting UK travellers to Orlando, Barbados, New York and Los Angeles.’

The 2021 schedule will be operated using a modern fleet of wide-body, twin-engine aircraft comprising of A330-300s, 787-9s, A350-1000s, as well as A330-200s before they retire in early 2022 as planned, the airline said.

Virgin Atlantic’s flights for summer 2021 will begin on March 28, 2021, and will be on sale from May 16, 2020.

London Stansted asks passengers to wear face coverings

London Stansted is urging passengers travelling through London Stansted to cover their faces and wear gloves.

The airport’s owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), has issued the new guidance and is trialling the measures across its other airports, Manchester and East Midlands. The move makes these airports the first in the UK to ask their passengers to wear face coverings.

The move is aimed at ensuring that the limited number of passengers currently making essential journeys through its airports feels safer and confident about flying. It will also provide a further level of protection to colleagues working at the airport. The pilot scheme will provide valuable feedback and set a path towards a new minimum standard for safe international travel.

Passengers are urged to bring their own gloves and face coverings or face masks to the airport. However, in the early stages of the pilot, for those arriving without, gloves and masks will be provided that can be worn throughout passengers’ time at the airport. London Stansted will also be conducting some limited temperature screening trials over the next few weeks. Initially, during this trial phase, this will be to test equipment and results will not be communicated to passengers or used to decide whether a passenger can travel.

MAG is planning to ask all passengers to make a health declaration in order to enter its airports and will give passengers sufficient notice of any such trials.

London Stansted Chief Operating Officer, Steve Griffiths, said: ‘It’s clear that social distancing will not work on any form of public transport. But we’re confident that when the time is right, people will be able to travel safely.

‘Here at London Stansted, we’ve been working hard with our two sister airports and the rest of the industry on a new safety framework for travel. We now need to work urgently with Government to agree how we operate in the future. This has to be a top priority so that people can be confident about flying, and to get tourism and travel going again.

‘ We have taken expert medical advice on how people can travel safely, and we’re pleased to be piloting these new measures at our airports for those passengers who do still need to travel. We expect to be able to agree a new framework by the end of May that will support a restart of the industry as soon as possible.’

Heathrow to commence COVID detection trials to reduce risk of Coronavirus transmission

London Heathrow has said that it will test out technologies and processes that could reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission while travelling, driving the development of a Common International Standard for health screening globally.

The trials – which will assess for medical effectiveness, passenger response as well as suitability to the airport environment – could form the basis of a Common International Standard for health screening at all global airports. Before any new measures are rolled out across the airport, they will be reviewed against Heathrow’s three tests to ensure that they are medically grounded, build consumer confidence and practical for airports to deliver.

The concepts under review as part of the Heathrow trials include: UV sanitation, to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays; facial recognition thermal screening technology to accurately track body temperature; and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

The first of the trials will be a temperature screening technology that uses camera detection systems capable of monitoring the temperatures of people moving through the airport. The passenger-facing trials will first be conducted in the airport’s immigration halls, and if successful will be introduced in departures, connections and colleague search areas. The trials will begin in the next two weeks in Terminal 2.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: ‘Aviation is the cornerstone of the UK economy, and to restart the economy, the Government needs to help restart aviation. The UK has the world’s third largest aviation sector offering the platform for the Government to take a lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for aviation health with our main trading partners. This Standard is key to minimising transmission of Covid-19 across borders, and the technology we are trialling at Heathrow could be part of the solution.’

As an international hub airport, Heathrow follows an international standard and is already required to carry out temperature checks by some other countries. Temperature screening was introduced following previous outbreaks of SARS and Ebola, with some countries using thermal checks as a control measure against COVID-19.

Data from trials on COVID-19 mitigation will be shared with Government, aviation industry and other UK airports to drive the creation of a Common International Standard for health screening. Holland-Kaye has been urging the UK Government to lead the global implementation of a Common International Standard, to ensure continued passenger safety and restore confidence in travel as countries prepare to ease their respective lockdowns.

TUI expects cruising to be back to pre-coronavirus levels within a year

According to TUI Cruises, the demand for cruises will be back to normal – pre-coronavirus – levels within a year, The Telegraph has reported.

TUI, one of the world’s leading travel companies and the parent of UK and Ireland brand Marella Cruises, said that about half of passengers whose cruises have been cancelled have already rebooked.

TUI, which has invested heavily in cruises in recent years, was forced to cancel and delay itineraries due to the risks from the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Marella Cruises has already suspended cruise ship holidays until the June-end and will retire Marella Celebration earlier than planned.

TUI chief Wybcke Meier reportedly told The Telegraph that even as dozens of cruises had to be cancelled, she was positive that the business would bounce back quickly.

‘We are convinced that in the long-term the demand for premium and luxury cruises will not change,’ Meir said. ‘We will see the demand for cruises return to pre-crisis level within 12 to 18 months.’

Earlier, Which? alleged that the UK’s leading travel companies, including TUI, were failing in their legal duty to issue refunds on trips impacted by coronavirus within 14 days. Major travel companies and airlines were withholding up to £7billion worth of cash refunds on cancelled holidays, the consumer group said.

‘The Government must urgently set out how it will support travel firms and airlines to ensure they can meet their legal obligations to refund customers for cancelled travel plans – and avoid permanent damage to trust and confidence in the travel industry,’ Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said.

Wizz Air flights resume partial services from London Luton

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air has resumed a portion of its flights from London’s Luton airport today, reports said online.

While the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office continue to advise against all non-essential foreign travel, Wizz Air plans to operate 10 per cent of its scheduled flights for passengers with essential journeys.

The flight schedule will be to selected airports in Europe, including Budapest, Burgas, Lisbon, Sofia, Tenerife, Tel Aviv and Varna, subject to no further restrictions. The airline had planned to resume flights to Romania but authorities in Bucharest have extended their lockdown restrictions.

Wizz Air has resumed flights from London Luton airport after implementing new Covid-19 guidelines for staff and passengers. The airline will operate these flights with strict health and safety measures due to ongoing social distancing regulations, including new physical distancing for passengers while boarding. The flights will be disinfected overnight, and cabin crew will hand out sanitising wipes to passengers and will be required to wear masks and gloves on all flights.

Wizz Air UK’s managing director, Owain Jones reportedly said: ‘As we restart selected Luton flights to provide an essential service to passengers who need to travel, our primary concern is the health, safety and well-being of our customers and crew. The protective measures that we are implementing will ensure the most sanitary conditions possible.

‘We encourage our customers to watch our new video on how to stay safe when travelling, as well as for more details on our new health and safety measures.’

Cunard extends suspension of voyages as Covid-19 crisis continues

Luxury cruise line Cunard has said that it will be extending the suspension of voyages as a result of the continued impact of Covid-19.

Cunard is the operator of luxury cruise ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, and the only line to offer regularly scheduled transatlantic service between New York and London. For its ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Cunard is cancelling all sailings that were due to depart up to and including July 31, 2020. For Queen Elizabeth, the cruise line has cancelled the entire Alaska season and all departures up to and including September 8, 2020.

‘These are extraordinary times and this global outbreak continues to challenge Cunard and the travel industry as a whole,’ said Simon Palethorpe, President, Cunard. ‘We would love nothing more than to bring our fleet back in to service, and give our guests the holidays they deserve and long for, but with the lockdowns and travel restrictions in place around the world, this is simply not possible at this time.’

‘We have been sailing for 180 years and we look forward to many more,’ he added. ‘We will get through these tough times together and look forward to welcoming our guests back on board again when the time is right.’

As earlier, guests who are booked on cancelled voyages during this period will automatically be given a 125 per cent Future Cruise Credit or have an option of a full refund. This may be used on any sailing before the end of March 2022, and the booking must be made by December 31, 2021. Guests may now also use their Future Cruise Credit for a second cabin to bring friends or family or to upgrade an existing booking. Full details on voyage cancellations, the changes to operations and the current cancellation policies including options available to guests due to travel on cancelled voyages, can be found at www.cunard.com.

Cunard will communicate with all guests, and their travel advisors, who are booked on affected voyages. Travel advisor commission on all bookings fully paid by April 22, 2020 will be protected.

Cunard will continue to monitor government guidelines and travel restrictions around the world, which could mean further changes to the timing of when each of the ships returns to service, it said.

Suspension of cruises to cost UK economy £888 million

According to new data from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the 90-day suspension of cruises will cost the UK economy £888m and lead to the loss of 5,525 jobs and £287m in wages, The Telegraph has reported.

The Association represents more than 95 per cent of the world’s cruise fleet. Across the UK, the cruise industry supports 40,517 direct jobs paying £1.35bn in wages. These are the cruise line employees, both on board and shoreside.

Nearly a fifth of the 435,000 people employed in the businesses supported by the cruise industry across Europe are also based in the UK, paying £3.05bn in wages. These include an extensive supply chain featuring travel agencies, hotels, local transport operators, and port agents, and the industry also supports catering companies, including many small and family-run businesses providing specialist food produce.

Along with indirect jobs, the total predicted economic loss rises to GBP2.37bn, 13,788 jobs, and GBP746m in wages for a 90-day suspension. For every 1% drop in cruising in the UK, CLIA anticipates up to 530 jobs can be lost. Each day of the suspension results in the loss of 55 direct jobs and 139 total jobs in the UK, the report noted.

Andy Harmer, director, Clia UK and Ireland, said: ‘The cruise industry generates £10 billion for the UK economy each year. We understand the significant impact, therefore, that our decision to suspend operations has on the livelihoods of people who work in our sector, and on businesses that rely on the cruise industry in all parts of the country. Unfortunately, our research shows that for a 90-day suspension we can anticipate a loss of more than 5,525 UK jobs and an economic cost of £888 million to the UK.’

‘Choosing to suspend operations was the right thing to do, and we know the cruise industry is resilient. We have put public health at the heart of our response, and we will continue to respect the guidance from international and national health authorities. We are using this time to enhance further our protocols that we will all benefit from, and we look forward to playing our part in the recovery, when the time comes for society to travel once more.’

The report come as both P&O Cruises and Cunard extended their suspension of global operations until July 31 at least. Neither line had ruled out extending beyond that date. They had announced they were starting to shut down operations on March 16.

British Airways to fly back thousands of British travellers stranded in India

British Airways will fly back thousands of British travellers stranded in India as a result of the Covid-19 crisis to the UK this week.

The airline is flying back thousands of travellers as part of 65 rescue flights that have either operated or are planned to operate in the coming days from destinations worldwide. The airline is also carrying hundreds of tonnes of essential supplies including medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the UK through IAG Cargo. More flights from India to the UK will continue to operate this week. The repatriation effort has been collaboration between the UK and Indian Government authorities, British Airways and the airport teams in both Britain and India.

In India, the airline will serve 11 airports across the country with special flight departures over a period of two weeks. Flights are taking off from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai, and the airline has also extended its operation to serve additional cities which include Goa, Amritsar, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: ‘It is an honour to support the government’s repatriation efforts and keep a small fleet of aircraft flying to bring stranded Britons back to the UK. When families step foot on board our aircraft and tell us how emotional it feels to be coming home, it reminds us why the job we are doing is still so important. We are hugely proud of our colleagues who continue to work with such dedication and commitment through this crisis to fly people and essential supplies across the world.’

The Foreign Office’s Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, said: ‘We know this is a difficult time for British travellers in India and we are pleased to have partnered with airlines, including British Airways, to get them home.

‘This is a huge and logistically-complex operation, and we are working tirelessly with the Indian Government and state authorities to help more British travellers get home.’

Any British national who may have not got confirmed travel back to the UK are advised to visit the India Travel Advice page (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/return-to-the-uk) and use the city-specific webpages to register themselves, the airline said.