Thousands of festive holidays axed over new Omicron restrictions

·3-min read
Thousands of holidays during the festive period have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by destinations (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
Thousands of holidays during the festive period have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by destinations (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

Thousands of holidays during the festive period have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by destinations.

Winter sports operator Crystal Ski has axed its trips to Austria departing on December 27 after the country introduced tougher entry requirements due to the Omicron variant.

Austria announced on Wednesday that arrivals from the UK will be required to quarantine for 10 days from Saturday unless they are fully vaccinated including a booster dose, and have evidence of a recent negative PCR test.

We’re sorry for the disappointment this has caused

Crystal Ski

Crystal Ski issued a message to customers on Thursday night which stated: “Unfortunately, due to the short notice of the new Austrian entry requirement, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel our holidays to Austria on 27th December.

“We know that last-minute testing is extremely challenging, even more so given that the tests would need to be taken on Christmas day or Boxing day.

“With limited testing availability and capacity nationwide, we’re aware the vast majority of our customers would’ve been unable to meet this new requirement to travel.

“We’re sorry for the disappointment this has caused.”

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Affected customers are being offered a full refund within 14 days, and an incentive to rebook.

Those due to depart for Austria on January 1 or 8 are able to change their plans without paying a fee until December 29.

Travel firms experienced a surge in bookings for winter sports holidays in Austria after France introduced a ban on UK tourists last week.

Cruise line MSC Cruises has cancelled four sailings from the UK by its ship MSC Magnifica due to pandemic restrictions across Europe.

The cruises, due to depart from Southampton on December 21 and 28, and January 4 and 11, were scheduled to call at France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has been put into lockdown until at least mid-January, while Germany has joined France in prohibiting UK tourists.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has reduced its planned January capacity by a third.

A spokesman for the airline said: “The impact of these recent government travel restrictions, in particular last weekend’s ban on UK arrivals into France and Germany, and the suspension of all EU flights to/from Morocco, has lowered Ryanair’s expected December traffic from between 10-11 million, to a lower range of 9.0-9.5 million.

“In responding to these restrictions, Ryanair has now cut its January capacity by 33%, reducing its expected January traffic from approximately 10 million to 6-7 million.”

Many people who have managed to travel for Christmas are facing disruption as Italy, Spain and Greece have made face masks compulsory outdoors again.

Catalonia, in northern Spain, has imposed an overnight curfew.

Worldwide there has been disruption to travel plans. Thousands of people’s travel plans were thrown into disarray on Christmas Eve as US airlines said they were already suffering from staffing shortages due to flight crews testing positive or being forced to self-isolate.

United Airlines pulled about 150 flights scheduled for December 24, according to the Flight Aware website, citing the “nationwide spike in Omicron cases”.

The AFP news agency reported that Delta Airlines had cancelled 90 flights, and Alaska Airlines had pulled a further 17 after some employees “may have been exposed to the virus”.

In Australia thousands of festive journeys were affected on Friday with more than 100 domestic flights from Sydney and Melbourne to other cities cancelled.

A spokesperson for Jetstar, which accounted for many of the cancellations, told the BBC the airline had rebooked “the vast majority” of affected passengers “within a few hours of their original departure time so they can get to their destination in time for Christmas”.

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