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.

Eastern Airways to operate two new routes to Nantes and Rennes from Southampton

Eastern Airways, an independent UK-based carrier, has announced plans to operate two French regional destinations from Southampton in April.

The airline will commence services to Rennes Bretagne from Thursday, April 29 and Nantes Atlantique from Friday, April 30. The two routes will be operated using the airline’s 72 seat ATR72-600 aircraft, with the Nantes service flying on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while Rennes will be operated on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The flights are now available to book at www.easternairways.com, with all fares including hold baggage.

Roger Hage, general manager for Eastern Airways, said: ‘As the UK’s regional airline, we are delighted to add the first two French connections from Southampton as being Nantes-Atlantique and Rennes-Bretagne, covering the key regions of the Loire Valley and Brittany.

‘Given Southampton’s prominence in connecting the UK and France, while also being within an hour of London by rail directly outside the terminal door, it is an exciting development for all.

‘With additional new destinations to follow in the coming days and weeks, Eastern Airways is committed to supporting the regions of the UK, connecting people and places, so adding further services at hubs we already serve is another crucial part in the economic recovery and prosperity of the South-Coast hub.’

Operations director at Southampton Airport Steve Szalay said: ‘This announcement from Eastern Airways is welcome news for the airport and our passengers.

‘It is also encouraging that the airline is expanding its route map at the airport during these challenging times and will once again provide those travelling from Southampton and beyond fantastic connectivity to these ever-popular French destinations.’

Eastern Airways will reintroduce the services carefully, aligned to changes in Covid-19 restrictions, with extensive cleaning measures on-board and across the airport for the safety of all passengers, it said.

Currently Eastern Airways serves Belfast-City, Manchester, Leeds-Bradford and Teesside from Southampton with Dublin planned. Eastern Airways also has a codeshare partnership focused on Southampton with Aurigny, Guernsey’s airline, to meet increased demand to the Channel Islands.

Loganair announces Summer 2021 schedule from Isle of Man

Loganair, one of the UK’s largest regional operators, has announced its Summer 2021 schedule from the Isle of Man – adding three new routes, increasing services on existing routes and restoring routes suspended during the pandemic.

Loganair has maintained the Isle of Man’s only passenger air services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and is now looking to allow customers to plan and book ahead for summer travel, as Covid-19 vaccines are expected to enable air travel widely once again.

The new routes from the Isle of Man include to Southampton, with three fights a week from May 26 – conveniently scheduled for onward connections to the Channel Islands with Loganair’s partner airline Blue Islands, and for those meeting cruise sailings; to Belfast City with services offered four times a week from April 1 increasing to six times weekly from May 24; and a seasonal non-stop service between the Isle of Man and Jersey, flying every Saturday from May 22 until late September.

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: ‘We are heartened to be able to further increase the island’s connectivity with these announcements. We’re already seeing bookings coming in for destinations such as Jersey and Cornwall, and it was increasingly clear that the Isle of Man was missing out. Today’s announcements will provide clarity for both our customers on the Isle of Man and those on the ‘other island’ and beyond wishing to plan and book for the summer.’

‘We’ve taken a phased approach to increasing the number of flights on offer, in anticipation of a progressive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and re-opening of borders. Of course, we will continue to work closely with the airport management team and the Isle of Man Government to prioritise public health and continued connectivity.’

Loganair said that it is also planning to increase the numbers of seats available across all routes by introducing larger ATR72 turboprop aircraft, which can carry up to 70 people per flight.

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.

Jet2.com announces launch of holiday sales for 2021

Jet2.com has announced the launch of its holiday sale, from now until March 1, offering savings on flights and holidays for 2021.

The UK travel and holiday company is offering a discount of £110 off per person on all package holidays booked through the Jet2holidays app. Holidaymakers may download the free Jet2holidays app to search, book, save and manage holidays on their mobile or tablet. Customers can save £100 per person on all package holidays booked with Jet2holidays, and Jet2.com is also offering 10 percent off flights.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: ‘After an uncertain and difficult 2020 for everyone, we want to give our customers something to really look forward to this year. There’s no better feeling than getting that much-needed holiday booked, and the huge savings we are offering means that customers can enjoy the double-whammy of knowing their holiday is in the diary whilst getting a fantastic deal at the same time. Whether it’s a family holiday, a break with the other half, or a group get together, we know everyone really needs that well-deserved holiday and what better time to book it than now!’

The sale is applicable on all package holidays and flights on sale.

Besides the discount and low prices, customers will receive a 22kg baggage allowance and two free pieces of hand luggage up to 10kg through a flight-only booking with Jet2.com. Jet2 has won five accolades at the 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for Airlines. Customers can also avail in-resort Customer Helpers, transfers, free child places and ATOL protection through Jet2holidays.

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.

British Airways announces flight schedule for November

British Airways has said that it will operate 52 long haul routes alongside its short haul network this month as the airline continues to adapt to changing restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airline will continue to operate to US gateways including New York JFK, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco, with Newark added to the schedule. Flights to the Caribbean continue to destinations including Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia, and flights will operate to destinations across Africa, the Middle East and Asia such as Dubai, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Flights to Santiago, and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, are also set to return.

Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, said: ‘We continue to connect Britain with a substantial number of destinations across the globe and customers tell us they are reassured by the safety measures we’ve put in place, including personal protection packs, screens, sanitiser stations, adapted meal services and customers and colleagues in masks.

‘The risk of contracting Covid-19 during a flight is incredibly low. IATA, the global aviation industry body, suggests that since the start of 2020 there have been as few as 44 cases of Covid-19 linked to flights. Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled. This figure amounts to one case for every 27 million travellers.

‘We believe the best way to get people flying again is to introduce reliable and affordable testing before flying. When this happens and demand returns, we stand ready to reintroduce even more destinations to our network, and carry on connecting even more families, friends and businesses.’

British Airways will also continue to serve domestic destinations including Manchester, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Newquay. In continental Europe, cities like Paris, Munich, Geneva and Amsterdam, among others, will be connected to Heathrow by frequent, direct flights. There are also regular flights to beach destinations such as Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

The operation of any flight is subject to changes, international restrictions and government approval, British Airways said, adding that the airline has a range of measures to keep customers safe when they travel, both at the airport and on board.

Eastern Airways to restart Cardiff-Belfast route in January

Eastern Airways is set to introduce its first ever service from Cardiff Airport to Belfast City Airport in January, as Wales regains its air service connection to Northern Ireland.

The UK-based regional airline will commence services from January 11, 2021 between the two cities, which will be the only air service linking Wales with Ireland, and is a former route operated by Flybe. The airline will operate daily weekday and a Sunday service, with fares starting from £79.99 one-way, including taxes and charges. The flights are now available to book at www.easternairways.com and include 15kg of hold baggage.

Roger Hage, General Manager Commercial & Operations for Eastern Airways, said: ‘The introduction of a Belfast City service from Cardiff is one so many have been asking for so connectivity between Wales and Northern Ireland is in-place as the appetite for travel increases. Eastern Airways is all about supporting the regions of the UK, connecting people and places, so adding further services at hubs we already serve is another crucial part in the economic recovery and prosperity of Wales and Northern Ireland.’

Spencer Birns, Interim CEO at Cardiff Airport said: ‘Today’s announcement is a hugely positive step and we are delighted that Eastern Airways has stepped in to re-instate a regular service between Cardiff and Belfast, offering vital connectivity between Wales and Northern Ireland.

‘Belfast has been one of our most in-demand routes since Flybe entered administration for both customers travelling for work, or to visit friends and family. We’d like to thank Eastern Airways for their continued confidence in regional connectivity from Cardiff.’

Katy Best, Commercial Director at Belfast City Airport, added: ‘Today’s announcement that Belfast City Airport will once again operate flights to Cardiff is not only a positive development for the airport itself, but also extremely welcome news for passengers who regularly travel to Wales..

‘Despite the challenging aviation environment of recent months, we continued exploring options to secure connectivity with the Welsh capital, and we’re very happy that our partner Eastern Airways has committed to this service.’