EasyJet has confirmed it is axing flights from the end of this week. British travellers are being urged to return home immediately, as airlines begin cancelling flights.
The airline, which will only operate only a small handful of key domestic and international routes, is urging passengers overseas to switch to one of its repatriation flights; these will operate until 10 January.
After that only a few flights will be taking off and only between key cities in the UK, including domestic services from London, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Belfast and Scotland. A handful of international flights will operate.
England has entered into a third national lockdown expected to last at least until mid-February. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said today there might not be any easing of restrictions until March.
The latest lockdown includes a ban on non-essential travel, although the Government said people already overseas could remain until the end of their holiday.
In a statement, EasyJet said:
“We will be operating flights up to and including the 10th January focused on repatriating any customers who need to return to the UK. We urge customers needing to return to transfer onto these flights as soon as possible as options to travel after this date will be reduced.
“We are contacting customers whose flights are cancelled with their options and all customers unable to travel as a result of the lockdown restrictions, whether their flights are cancelled or scheduled to operate, can transfer their flights to a later date for free, or receive a voucher or a refund.
“It is clear that testing will continue to be important to keeping people moving when travel is possible and we continue to push for work to be done on the efficacy of rapid testing technologies like antigen and LAMP testing making it easier, less expensive and less onerous for customers.
“Alongside the welcome roll-out of the vaccine, this will play a vital role in enabling normal life to resume; including travelling again for work, to visit friends and family, or for a much-needed holiday.”
Thomas Cook, Tui and Virgin Holidays have all confirmed that they have scrapped their flight schedules until the middle of February due to what Virgin described as “extraordinary circumstances”.
Airlines flying into the UK will be required to stop passengers from boarding if they are unable to show a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure. The measure will be applied to all countries, including those with travel corridors under which travellers are currently exempted from quarantine on arrival in the UK.