Easter holiday plans by 11 million Brits projected to boost UK economy by £3.2bn

11 million Brits have confirmed their intentions to embark on an overnight holiday trip within the UK over the upcoming Easter weekend.

This surge in domestic travel is poised to inject a substantial £3.2bn into the national economy, according to VisitEngland’s latest Easter Trip Tracker survey.

This year’s figures mark a significant increase from the previous Easter season, where 6.5 million Brits had finalised their holiday plans within the country.

While the outlook is positive, the survey also notes a sizable contingent of 10.5 million individuals who remain undecided about their Easter travel plans within the UK. Their hesitancy primarily revolves around concerns about the cost of living and the unpredictable Easter weather.

VisitEngland Chief Executive Patricia Yates said: ‘Tourism businesses and destinations will be looking to the critical Easter weekend for much needed cash flow after the lean winter months so it’s really encouraging to see so many of us are planning a holiday at home.

‘We also know from our latest research that the cost of living remains a concern and while people are still keen to take a break, many are booking late, taking shorter breaks, wanting to save on accommodation, activities and eating out, highlighting the ongoing challenges for industry. So please do go out and explore the amazing destinations and attractions here on our doorstep this spring, tourism businesses will be very pleased to see you.’

Interestingly, the majority of Brits planning overnight trips during Easter are opting for shorter breaks spanning one to three nights.

In comparison to domestic travel plans, the survey also highlights international holiday intentions, with 20 percent of British adults planning to holiday domestically during Easter, compared to 13 percent opting for trips abroad.

VisitEngland conducts these comprehensive surveys periodically to capture insights into the travel behaviours of GB consumers during key holiday periods. The Easter edition survey, conducted online by Kantar Research Express between March 14-18, involved a representative sample of 1,254 adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain.

easyJet launches new flights from Southampton to Belfast and Glasgow

easyJet, the UK-based European regional airline, has launched two new year-round flight routes departing from Southampton Airport.

These routes, connecting Southampton with Belfast International and Glasgow, have commenced operations, enhancing connectivity for travellers in the South of England to vital hubs in Northern Ireland and Scotland, catering to both leisure and business travellers.

The first flight from Southampton to Belfast International took off on Sunday, October 29, marking the start of a service that now runs up to three times a week on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays. The new route to Glasgow, which departed from Southampton on Thursday, November 2, will be operational twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays.

These new routes are designed to offer year-round service, reinforcing domestic connections from the South West to these significant cities across the UK. Whether passengers are seeking a city break, a convenient business connection, or the chance to explore Northern Ireland and Scotland, these flights are set to provide convenient options.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager, said: ‘We are delighted to have launched our new services from Southampton to Belfast International and Glasgow, which will provide our customers in the South of England with direct and convenient departures to Northern Ireland and Scotland, making it easier for people to visit more of the fantastic destinations the UK has to offer for leisure or business.

Mark Beveridge, Operations Director at Southampton Airport, said: ‘We are really pleased to welcome easyJet’s first services to Glasgow and Belfast International.

‘Following the recent completion of the runway extension, we are working hard and speaking regularly with our airline partners to deliver the routes and services the people of Southampton and the wider region deserve.’

Travelers can secure seats on these routes, with prices starting at £22.50 one way per person including taxes, and bookings available through easyJet.com.

British Airways and IndiGo arrange codeshare agreement to enhance UK-India connectivity

British Airways, the UK’s flagship carrier, and IndiGo, India’s premier airline, have formalised a codeshare partnership aimed at strengthening connections between the United Kingdom and India.

This codeshare accord will help British Airways customers connect to their final destination using a single ticket. In total, eight destinations will become accessible as codeshare alternatives for travellers journeying from London Heathrow via New Delhi or Mumbai. Notably, this includes three new destinations that were previously not available through British Airways:

* London Heathrow to Amritsar via New Delhi

* London Heathrow to Kochi via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Ahmedabad via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Goa via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Thiruvananthapuram via Mumbai (NEW)

* London Heathrow to Kolkata via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Rajkot (Hirasar) via Mumbai (NEW)

* London Heathrow to Vadodara via Mumbai (NEW)

IndiGo, known for its extensive domestic and regional network, operates with a fleet of A320 aircraft. All British Airways passengers traveling on IndiGo-operated codeshare flights to India will have complimentary meals and the UK carrier’s baggage allowance in economy class, which includes two checked bags weighing up to 23 kgs per person.

Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said: ‘British Airways has been flying to India since 1924, making it one of our longest-served and most valued destinations. Our partnership with IndiGo means that customers will be able to book their entire journey on one ticket, allowing seamless travel all the way from London to their final destination, offering more choice and flexibility for customers.’

Abhijit Dasgupta, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management at IndiGo, said, ‘We are excited to announce our codeshare agreement with British Airways. This partnership expands the choices available to British Airways customers for journeys to/from London Heathrow, using IndiGo’s extensive network in India.’

Passengers traveling between Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore can experience British Airways’ newly designed Club Suite (business class) cabin, featuring direct-aisle access, individual suite doors, and flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Codeshare flights are available for booking now, with travel commencing on October 12, 2023, pending governmental approval.

Top rated seaside escapes for this summer

With summer approaching, those looking for an escape to the seaside may well be looking for ideas beyond those most well-known and heavily travelled. A recent survey by Which? rated the best seaside destinations for a holiday this year, with plenty of inspiration to choose from and Bamburgh in Northumberland topping the lot for the third year running.

The small Northumberland village, known for its beautiful sandy shoreline and imposing castle ruins, was rated highest amongst more than 3,000 surveyed for its beach, drink, accommodation, scenery and value. Dartmouth in Devon came second, while Portstewart in County Derry, Northern Ireland was third.

Wales’ highest ranked seaside destination was the impressive Portmeirion west of Snowdonia, while St Andrews in Fife was the most approved of Scottish seaside town.

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: ‘Few countries can be home to such a diversity of brilliant seaside breaks. Whether you want world-class beaches and utter wilderness, or the bright lights and bucket and spade atmosphere of a resort, the UK has a seaside break made for you. What our survey shows is that it’s rarely the most famous destinations that visitors enjoy most.’

He added, ‘Try somewhere new this year and our survey shows you should find fewer crowds and better value.’

flybe to introduce daily cross-UK service next March

flybe, the low-fares European airlines based in Exeter, UK, has announced plans to introduce a daily service between Southampton and Glasgow next year, Southampton Airport has announced.

The new flight will commence on March 2, 2023 as part of flybe’s wider schedule, and adds to the airline’s existing flights including Manchester and Birmingham. Tickets are available to book at: flybe.com

Matt Hazelwood, Chief Commercial Officer for AGS Airports Ltd, which owns Glasgow Airport, said: ‘This announcement is welcome news and will provide even more choice for passengers between Scotland and England’s south coast.

‘I have no doubt the route will be popular with both business and leisure travellers taking advantage of Flybe’s competitive fares.’

The Southampton to Glasgow route will operate using one of flybe’s CO2-efficient De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 (Q400) aircraft with 78 seats. The flight will depart Southampton at 14:45 hours arriving Glasgow at 16:20 hours. On return, the flight will depart Glasgow at 16:55 and arriving at Southampton at 18:35 hours.

British Airways and Loganair expand codeshare agreement to include 18 new routes

British Airways and Loganair have recently announced a major expansion of their codeshare agreement, offering more choice and connectivity for customers travelling across the UK.

The expansion to 18 new routes will now give British Airways’ customers access to 38 of Loganair’s UK routes, allowing customers to book onward connections from destinations across the airline’s route network, or point to point travel in the UK more easily through British Airways’ website.

Loganair’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Hinkles, said: ‘We’re delighted to mark Loganair’s 60th anniversary with the expansion of our partnership with British Airways. Today’s addition of no fewer than 18 routes is great news for connectivity to and from the UK regions, and we’re confident that the ability to enjoy Executive Club benefits and a new range of seamless flight connections when flying on selected Loganair routes will bring welcome new choice for British Airways’ customers when flying in the UK regions. The development cements what we believe to be the longest-running relationship between two UK airlines, and it’s a partnership which will continue to deliver for customers throughout the UK.’

Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said: ‘It is great news to be expanding our longstanding codeshare agreement with Loganair. This will create better connectivity and offer more choice for our customers between UK regions and destinations all over the world thanks to our expansive global route network and Loganair’s extensive regional services.’

Routes now available to book include: Aberdeen to Belfast City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and Southampton; City of Derry to London and Liverpool; Cornwall Airport Newquay to Manchester; Exeter to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle; Isle of Man to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester; Inverness to Birmingham; Norwich to Aberdeen and Edinburgh and Teesside to Southampton.

Customers who book onto these selected routes operated by Loganair through ba.com can also earn Avios and Tier points as part of British Airways’ Executive Club programme.

British Airways’ customers travelling from Aberdeen or the Isle of Man to Manchester will also now be able to connect onto British Airways’ code share flights on other carriers, including oneworld partners, from the north-west hub. Destinations include New York, Barbados and Orlando.

Princess Cruises announces all inclusive UK ‘Summer Seacations’ on MedallionClass Ships

Princess Cruises has announced the series of its short breaks and week-long cruises aboard MedallionClass ships, Regal Princess and Sky Princess, scheduled to sail from Southampton around the UK coast from late summer.

Regal Princess will offer 14 UK voyages running from July 31 through to September 23, 2021, while Sky Princess will offer eight UK cruises, running from August 30 through to September 28, 2021.

Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer scenic cruises and voyages with stops in UK ports-of-call including Liverpool, Belfast and Greenock, with itineraries ranging from three to seven nights. The all-inclusive ‘Summer Seacations’ will go on sale on Wednesday, March 24 at 8 a.m.

Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer guests ‘Truly Touchless’ experiences and personalised services through the cruise line’s MedallionClass Experience that supports new health protocols. The cruise line’s OceanMedallion wearable device replaces the traditional cruise card and pairs with embedded IoT (‘Internet of things’) -driven innovative technology to significantly expand touch-free options and personalisation on board Princess MedallionClass ships including: touchless embarkation and disembarkation; keyless stateroom entry; completely contactless commerce; on-demand food, beverages and retail items delivered anywhere on board, and entertainment content via smart devices, among others.

A variety of entertainment will be on offer including production shows in the Princess Theatre, Movies Under the Stars, celebrity guest speakers and live musical performances. Relaxation and leisure facilities such as fitness classes, swimming pools and spa treatments will also be available.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises vice president UK and Europe, said, ‘We share in our guests’ excitement today as we unveil the details for our new Summer Seacations. With Princess Cruises, the ship is also the destination. Guests can make the most of our multiple dining options, order food and drink poolside, using the MedallionClass app, that can be delivered to you, and enjoy fantastic entertainment both day and night.

‘While international travel remains uncertain, these new cruises mean that UK residents can take a well-deserved holiday around the UK. We are also delighted that our new cruises will offer the choice between scenic voyages and port-of-call itineraries where guests can visit the historic UK cities of Liverpool, Belfast and Glasgow.’

All guests will have the opportunity to make their cruise all-inclusive by selecting the Princess Plus fare, which includes the line’s premium drinks package, unlimited MedallionNet Wi-Fi and gratuities for £30 per person per day. All-inclusive fares for a balcony stateroom start from £539pp for a three-night scenic voyage; £599pp for a four-night cruise with up to one port; and £999pp for a seven-night cruise with up to three ports-of-call. Guests can book with a £50 deposit if booked before May 3, 2021.

Bookings made by April 30, 2021 will be covered by Princess Cruises ‘Book with Confidence’ policy, meaning guests can cancel up to 30 days prior to sailing and receive cancellation fees back as a Future Cruise Credit.

The sailings on Regal Princess and Sky Princess will be for UK resident COVID-19 vaccinated guests only. All guests and crew will be required to follow enhanced health and well-being measures to protect everyone onboard on these cruises. Travel insurance will also be mandatory for all guests, Princess said.

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.

Ryanair to operate minimum flights from Dublin and UK to serve emergency needs

As the health and safety concerns due to the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 continue, Ryanair has announced that it will operate minimum services from the UK and Ireland to meet emergency needs in the coming weeks.

According to a release by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Group CEO, the Ireland based airline is working to provide repatriation and rescue flights for many EU Governments including the UK. The airline is also offering its aircraft for emergency medical flights, including to/from China.

As most EU countries have imposed flight bans or other restrictions, over 90% of Ryanair’s aircraft will be grounded for the coming weeks. However, the airline will be working with EU Governments to keep some minimum flight links open for emergency reasons, though the passenger loads on these flights will be very low.

For the next week from Friday March 27 to Thursday April 2, Ryanair will operate daily or weekly flights to and from Dublin to London Stansted, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester and from Cork to London Stansted. From the UK, Ryanair will operate the return services to Dublin from London Stansted, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. In addition, the airline will operate services from London Stansted to Eindhoven, Lisbon, Cork, Berlin and Budapest. More information on the flight details at www.ryanair.com.

‘All these aircraft are disinfected daily. With low loads and no trolley service, social distancing will be optimised on-board, and we ask all passengers to cooperate fully with our crews who are doing their best in difficult times to maintain vital links to/from Ireland and to/from the UK to facilitate our passengers and their families to deal with emergencies that may require urgent travel over the coming days and weeks,’ O’Leary said.

‘Ryanair apologises sincerely for the unprecedented grounding of our aircraft fleet, and any schedule disruptions this may have caused, but we must all work together with EU Governments to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our citizens and our health services,’ he added.

British Airways suspends all flights to China amid coronavirus outbreak

British Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, has suspended all flights to and from mainland China as coronavirus hit the province of Hubei, Alliance News has reported.

The move comes as the British government is working on urgent plans to bring UK nationals back from Hubei. The Foreign Office has warned against ‘all but essential travel’ to mainland China, saying it may become more difficult for British nationals in other provinces to leave following the virus outbreak. The death toll in China has risen to 132, with confirmed virus infections rising to nearly 6,000.

The British airline, which operates daily flights to Shanghai and Beijing from Heathrow, said that it was suspending the flights, with immediate effect following Foreign Office instruction.

British Airways said: ‘We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel.

‘We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority. Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on ba.com.’

Citing an unnamed source in Wuhan city, the report said that UK citizens were being given details of forthcoming flights, adding that flights taking Britons back home could begin as early as Thursday.

The deadline for those stuck in the city of Wuhan and surrounding areas to contact the British consulate if they wished to leave passed at 3am UK time, which was 11am local time, it added.

The Foreign Office said that UK nationals in China should ‘make decisions based on their own personal circumstances’ over whether to leave other parts of the country. The British embassy in Beijing has said UK citizens may get transport facility quickly and with short notice.

In the UK, people returning will be asked to ‘self-isolate’ and stay indoors for 14 days, but there are no plans to forcibly quarantine them, the report said. The Department of Health and Social Care said that 97 people in the UK have been given the all-clear for the virus, although scientists predict it may have entered the country.

China has imposed travel restrictions between its major cities, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has suspended all tour activities to prevent further virus spread.