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.

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.

Aviation industry looks into future travel arrangements

‘de-densification’ and ‘neutralisation’ are now the catchphrases as the aviation industry looks into future travel once permitted to restart from the current grounding of passenger aircraft.

According to a report in The Independent, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said that governments and health authorities will impose strict new rules intended to reduce the spread of Covid-19 when aviation restarts at scale. The concept of ‘de-densification’ and ‘neutralisation’ will be applied onboard as measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

De-densification refers to the reduction in passenger numbers to facilitate social distancing within the aircraft, while neutralisation refers to the process of specifying seats that must remain unoccupied.

Mr De Juniac said: ‘De-densification, if it is requested by the civil aviation and the health authority, will be by neutralising one seat in each row among the two rows of seats of short-haul aircraft.’

‘That is a complete shift of the business model of airlines operating short-haul aircraft,’ he added. On a Ryanair aircraft normally holding 189 passengers, with the middle seats unoccupied, only 126 would be allowed on board, the report noted.

Further, the CAA guidelines specify that the aircraft toilets must be cleaned after they have been used 10 times. Airlines cannot sell the last three rows of seats on international flights, which must be ‘reserved as a quarantine area for handling possible in-flight emergencies’. The rear lavatory on the right side should be designated for the exclusive use by those under quarantine. One flight attendant will be assigned to look after the passenger, and ‘should refrain from close contact with other crew members’.

Following this reduction, airlines would face higher costs, which will inevitably be passed on to the passenger, the report noted. If airlines are required to cut passenger numbers by one-third, fares could rise by 50 per cent, the report said, though the exact increase would depend on supply and demand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Airways announces flights to Europe from £40 each way

British Airways has announced that it is offering thousands of hand-baggage-only flights to Europe available for £40 or less each way.

Customers can choose from a range of over 70 routes across the airline’s European network including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Kefalonia, Faro and Verona. The airline is also including domestic flights between London and UK cities in its offer, such as Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Belfast City and Jersey. Customers can explore destinations and book a weekend cultural break or a beach holiday at ba.com, with fares from £40 each way or less based on a return fare in Euro Traveller. All flights include free hand luggage.

Andrew Brem, British Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: ‘It’s time to shrug off the cold and the rain. With flights for £40 or less each way, there’s something for everyone to look forward to, with fantastic value for those wishing to soak in the culture and charm of a city break or the summer sun on a beach in the Mediterranean. Take advantage of our hand-baggage only fares or enjoy guaranteed savings with a flight and hotel package together.’

The seats, based on return fares, are available for travel on select dates until December 31, 2020. The low fares are on offer from London Heathrow and London Gatwick. The additional destinations available include Bilbao, Geneva, Ibiza, Milan, Oslo and Paris.

Members of the British Airways Executive Club can earn Avios and Tier Points on their bookings. The Executive Club is free to join and Avios can be spent on Reward flights, upgrades, hotels, car rental and being used for part payment, allowing customers to cut the cost of future flights. When using Avios part payment, customers can select from a range of savings by destination and cabin, and can also collect Avios and Tier Points on their bookings.

British Airways is presently offsetting carbon emissions on all its flights within the UK, as part of its commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it said.

easyJet announces new route from Bristol to Antalya next summer

easyJet, the UK-based European regional airline, has said that it will launch a new route from Bristol to Antalya in Turkey for summer.

The new flights will operate three times a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays throughout the summer, providing travellers from the South West with a direct route to the Turkish resort, alongside routes already operated to Dalaman and Bodrum.

Situated on the Turquoise Coast, the port city of Antalya presents several historic attractions and is known for its stunning blue waters.

Flights will take off from May 3, 2020, and the new service is expected to carry over 23,000 customers during its first season. Seats are now on sale at www.easyjet.com, with fares from £28.99.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager commented, ‘We are delighted to confirm today that we will be launching a new route from Bristol to Antalya. As the largest airline at Bristol we’re focused on strengthening our network and providing our customers in the South West with excellent services by offering great value fares, a convenient schedule and more choice when they travel.’

Nigel Scott, Business Development Director, Bristol Airport said: ‘This is exciting news extending the number of easyJet destinations available from Bristol Airport and adding Antalya to the route network. The additional route demonstrates the long-term collaboration and joint growth strategy between easyJet and Bristol Airport. For customers in the South West it offers another sun destination and continues to increase the choice and flexibility of flights available to passengers in the region selecting to fly from their local airport.’

Antalya is the seventh new destination easyJet has added to its Bristol network in 2019. In October the airline launched a new route from Bristol to Hurghada in Egypt and earlier this year to Montpellier and Biarritz in France, Milan and Brindisi in Italy and Rhodes in the Greek Islands.

TUI UK announces holidays to Sharm El Sheikh from Doncaster Sheffield for 2020

TUI, one of the world’s largest holiday companies, has recently announced the relaunch of holidays to Sharm El Sheikh from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with flights starting in May 2020.

TUI’s service to the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheikh will give customers more choice of winter sun and summer breaks. With the service, the UK holiday company will give customers an opportunity to return to the Red Sea resort. Resorts including TUI Magic Life Sharm El Sheikh and Reef Oasis Blue Bay on the Red Sea coast will be on sale, with more hotel announcements under way.

Located between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea, Sharm el-Sheikh is known for its calm sandy beaches, clear waters and coral reefs. Naama Bay, with a palm tree-lined promenade, has several bars and restaurants. The resort is also popular with those seeking water sport activities such as scuba diving and snorkelling among the coral reefs. Ras Muhammad National Park is a popular diving destination, with marine life around the Shark and Yolanda reefs and the Thistlegorm wreck.

Mark Hall, Director of Product and Destination Experience TUI UK & Ireland, said ‘At TUI we’re committed to offering our customers an outstanding choice of holidays across the globe. Sharm el Sheikh was always a hugely popular destination and I am delighted to confirm that we are reintroducing the Egypt favourite to our summer 2020 programme.

In response to customer demand, our first flights from Doncaster Sheffield will operate from May 2020 and our resorts are all looking forward to welcoming our customers back with a smile.’

Chris Harcombe, Aviation Development Director, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: ‘We are delighted the TUI is reintroducing flights to Sharm El Sheikh from Doncaster Sheffield Airport and its great news for our customers that we can now offer flights to this popular holiday destination.

‘It’s another win for DSA coming hot on the heels of TUI announcing two new routes, Fuerteventura and Heraklion for next summer and fifteen extra weekly departures on existing routes by adding a fourth aircraft to their successful base, here in Yorkshire.

‘We are very proud of our almost 15-year partnership with TUI, one of the world’s leading travel companies, which has carried over 7 million passengers through DSA since 2005. We have a shared passion to provide an easy, friendly and relaxed service for our customers, offering flexibility and choice including long-haul destinations to Sandford, Florida and Cancun, Mexico.’

TUI expands capacity for summer 2020 from Cardiff, Newcastle and Birmingham airport

TUI, the UK’s largest holiday company, has announced its holiday programme for summer 2020 with the addition of 30,000 seats from Cardiff Airport, 98,000 seats from Newcastle Airport and 194,000 seats from Birmingham Airport.

TUI UK&I’s Director of Aviation Planning, Karen Switzer, said: ‘Earlier this month TUI announced an additional two million seats to many holiday destination favourites and today the majority of these seats go on sale for summer 2020. We are delighted that our new additions launched today provide holidaymakers departing from our regional airports with even more choice when deciding where to go next summer on holiday. The customer is at the heart of everything we do and this additional growth to some of our customer’s favourite holiday hotspots demonstrates our continued commitment for people to discover their smile with us.’

TUI said that it will introduce new 10 and 11 night holidays to mid-haul hot spots Antalya, Turkey and Gran Canaria in the Canaries. Cardiff Airport will also see additional flying days to Dalaman, Turkey and Tenerife in the Canaries.

Spencer Birns, Chief Commercial Officer at Cardiff Airport, said: ‘We want to thank TUI for recognising the opportunity to add an extra 15,000 holidays from Cardiff next summer. The news demonstrates TUI’s commitment to delivering even more choice for Welsh customers in addition to this year’s passenger growth at our national Airport.’

At Newcastle, TUI has added new destinations including Santorini and Skiathos in Greece, and Hurghada in Egypt. The new routes are on sale with Santorini flights operating on Tuesdays, Hurghada on Fridays and Skiathos on Wednesdays. TUI will also introduce new 10 and 11 night holidays to mid-haul hotspot Antalya in Turkey, increased frequency to Dalaman in Turkey on Mondays as well as additional flying days to Orlando Sanford, Florida; Tenerife, Canaries; Palma, Spain and Larnaca, Cyprus.

Leon McQuaid, Head of Aviation Development at Newcastle International Airport, said: ‘We have received countless requests for services to be restored to Hurghada, Skiathos and Santorini, so we are extremely pleased that TUI is putting these routes on sale for summer 2020.’

As well as the three new routes, TUI has also added more flying days to some of its existing destinations including additional direct flights to Florida on its state-of-the-art Dreamliner.

At Birmingham, TUI has added new destinations including Almeria in Spain and Split in Croatia, with Almeria flights operating on Sundays and Split on Fridays. TUI has added 16 additional flying days across 11 of its current destinations from Birmingham Airport, including to Antalya, Tenerife and Rhodes. The summer 2020 programme will also see an increase in the frequency of flights operating to Ibiza and Palma in Spain and Mahon in Menorca.

Tom Screen, Aviation Director from Birmingham Airport, said: ‘We are delighted that TUI has added even more capacity and two new routes to its portfolio from Birmingham Airport during summer 2020. These new routes by TUI means that Midlanders have over 40 direct destinations to choose from with the UK’s largest holiday company.’

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays adds 170,000 departing seats across UK bases

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has announced the addition of thousands of seats and holidays to winter-sun destinations in the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Spain in response to extra demand.

The UK-based travel and holiday company has added over 170,000 departing seats between October and March from across its UK bases, with a major focus on October and the school holidays.

The increase in capacity includes over 65,000 additional departing seats from Manchester, nearly 40,000 additional departing seats from Birmingham, over 20,000 additional departing seats from Glasgow and 15,000 additional departing seats from Newcastle. There are also extra seats on sale from Belfast International, Edinburgh, East Midlands and London Stansted. The seats are available for booking currently.

The extra capacity announced includes over 100,000 additional seats now on sale departing to the Canary Islands between October and March. This includes over 50,000 additional seats to Tenerife and almost 40,000 additional seats to Lanzarote as well as more flying to Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.

Nearly 30,000 additional seats have been added to Turkey, with additional flights to Antalya and Dalaman. Further, extra flights have been added to serve several destinations in Greece, including Corfu, Crete (Heraklion), Kos and Rhodes – amounting to 5,000 additional departing seats to Greece this winter.

In addition, over 10,000 additional departing seats are available for booking to the Balearic Islands – Palma (Majorca), Menorca and Ibiza. Jet2 has also added more seats to Cyprus, with extra capacity to Larnaca and Paphos, as well as extra capacity to Malta and Reus (Costa Dorada) for winter.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: ‘This week has seen an unprecedented amount of demand, and we have responded quickly to that by adding more flights and holidays to the sunshine this winter. This demand shows that holidaymakers want to get away, and with this extra capacity we are providing more choice and flexibility when it comes to booking our award-winning flights and ATOL protected package holidays.’

Virgin Atlantic plans to increase flights from London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has said that it is planning to increase its flights at London Heathrow in an effort to challenge the dominance of IAG, which owns British Airways, at the airport.

The move is also in line with the government’s Aviation Strategy green paper which seeks to facilitate competition between airlines through the allocation of slots at Heathrow. This will offer customers more choice and lower fares, as well as enhanced domestic connectivity and connectivity to international destinations.

Currently IAG holds more than 55 per cent of all take-off and landing slots at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic said that it will compete on 26 routes where there is an IAG monopoly, including Accra in Ghana, Austin in the USA and Bogota in Colombia. The airline will increase its long haul route network and launch a new inclusive network of domestic and European routes when the airport expands. The plans include a significant increase of Virgin Atlantic’s current network, including flights to exciting destinations such as Kolkata, Jakarta and Panama City, where passengers are unable to fly non-stop currently.

In total, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve 103 domestic, European and long haul destinations – up from just 19 long haul destinations in 2020. Of the 84 new destinations planned, 12 are domestic – including Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester, 37 are European – including Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid, and 35 are global – including Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Santiago.

‘Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow Airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens of thousands of travellers,’ Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said. ‘Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this. Air passengers need a choice and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands.

‘Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long. The third runway is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag carrier. This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers, as well giving Britain a real opportunity to boost its trade and investment links around the world. Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive.’