Quarantine 'utter failure' as first Ryanair flights two thirds full

Hugh Morris
Spain is due to be on the first list of air bridge deals - istock

The first wave of Ryanair flights departed two thirds full today as British families are prepared to ignore UK quarantine to go on their summer holidays, Michael O’Leary has said. 

The low-cost airline returned hundreds of its aircraft to the skies today, carrying 105,000 passengers, as it ramped up its schedule after a three-month pandemic hiatus. 

Speaking to Telegraph Travel, O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, said early indications showed a load factor of 67 per cent. “We expected it to be weaker, but it’s quite clear that British families going on holidays have decided, one, either the quarantine will be removed before they come home, or two, they will fill in the form and then just go about their normal lives," he said.

The Government is expected to announce details of its air bridge schemes tomorrow, but travel agents have said confusion over the plans has stopped them from selling holidays they cannot guarantee will take place. 

Lee Hunt, managing director of Deben Travel, said he was reluctant to accept bookings for July and August, adding: "Personally I’m not prepared to take the risk until there’s a bit more clarity."

Follow the latest news below. 

04:17 PM

Will air bridges be announced on Thursday?

The world of travel is on tenterhooks as we await news of air bridges from the Government, now expected on Thursday. 

The key developments today include:

  • Ryanair says first wave of planes two thirds full
  • Travel firms bemoan air bridge confusion
  • Thailand reopens borders, but not to tourists
  • Canal holiday bookings in UK up 150 per cent
  • Austria warns residents of overseas cases spikes

Read about all the above and more below.  Join us tomorrow for the latest news. 

04:04 PM

Ryanair head criticises Government quarantine

Read a full interview with Michael O'Leary here, or watch below. 

04:01 PM

Officers to patrol Brighton this weekend issuing £150 fines to litterers

Brighton & Hove City Council has struck back in the battle against littering, with sunseekers told to ‘Love our beach’ or face an on-the-spot fine of £150.

Teresa Machan reports:

The city was one of several places in Britain that drew thousands of visitors during the late-June heatwave. Pictures of rubbish-strewn parks and beaches along with pleas from those managing outdoor public spaces flooded Twitter and other social media sites. 

Ahead of further easing of lockdown on July 4, dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, many councils are fearing similar scenes.

On average three tonnes of beach litter is collected in Brighton at this time of year. Thursday June 25 saw 11 tonnes of rubbish collected – the largest amount ever on a single day. The previous day it had taken six people five hours to clean 600 metres of beach. To help supplement collections Brighton & Hove City Council was forced to deploy cleaning staff from elsewhere in the city. 

Along with other new measures including the addition of temporary trade-waste sized bins, the council is erecting 40 signs along the seafront asking people to bin litter properly, take it home, or risk a £150 fine.

Read the full story

03:51 PM

Air bridge fiasco 'leaves us in limbo'

The owner of a holiday rental business in Turkey has told Telegraph Travel the lack of clarity over air bridges is keeping her guests in limbo. 

Sue Flynn, owner of Kalkan Magic, which operates on Turkey's south coast, said the Government's delay was causing her and husband "awful problems"

"As the travel air bridge announcement is pushed back yet again to  Thursday , it is increasingly frustrating for me as a business owner," she said.

"I have guests literally waiting to confirm bookings for this month and next but cannot currently do this until an air bridge between UK and Turkey gets the green light so UK quarantine will be removed. Meanwhile, I and my guests are needlessly left totally in limbo."

03:39 PM

More than half of Palma hotels to reopen by end of July

More than two thirds of hotels in Palma, the capital of Majorca, will reopen by next month.

This is the estimation of the Spanish island's hotel association, which says 60 per cent could be open by the end of July

President of Palma and Cala Major’s Hotel Association, Javier Vich, said: "Of course our hotel sector has been hit significantly by this crisis but we are reassured at the rate of which our properties are reopening and their rapid adaptation of new measures and protocols to ensure the safety of guests and staff.”

Palma has also revealed a new app developed to control the number of visitors to the city's beaches. The app is designed to show in real time which beaches are less crowded and which are at capacity. 

03:20 PM

The axed British railway lines I'd love to see reopen

More than 5,000 miles of railway lines were brutally axed under the direction of Dr Beeching in the Sixties, but the Government seems determined to bring some of them back to life and has received 50 bids from towns and cities hoping to reverse the cuts, writes Anthony Lambert.

Some spectacularly scenic lines were among those axed by Richard Beeching during his time as chairman of British Railways in 1963-5 or by his successors. One thinks of the Callander and Oban line over which a summer-season Pullman observation car provided armchair views of Glen Ogle – promoted by the railway as “the Khyber Pass of Scotland”.

Or the Somerset and Dorset, whose bucolic landscapes were traversed by the Pines Express and excursion trains from northern towns and cities to the sands of Bournemouth and Poole. Bleak Pennine fells were once the backdrop to Blackpool-bound excursions from the North East, soaring over valleys on masonry and spindly lattice girder viaducts designed by Sir Thomas Bouch – one of them the tallest railway viaduct in England

See the full list here

03:02 PM

Uruguay's inclusion on EU list shows Latin America can bounce back

The Latin American Travel Association has welcomed the inclusion of Uruguay on the European Union's list of "safe countries", allowing for the travel between the Continent and the South American country. 

See here for the full EU list

Chairman of LATA, Colin Stewart, said:

"In recent weeks, much of the Covid-19 exposure has turned to Latin America; given the evolution of the crisis in a few South American countries.

"This example from Uruguay shows a positive illustration of how the pandemic is being managed in a country which borders Brazil and Argentina; and helps showcase a more diverse picture in terms of how the pandemic is being managed throughout the continent.

"This news gives us and many of our LATA members confidence that tourism to Latin America will bounce back soon. Although we anticipate that this will happen in stages and will be subject to the epidemiological situation in each specific country; the inclusion of Uruguay in this safe list is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Uruguay's beaches await European travellers - istock

02:36 PM

What's got your hump?

A three-month curfew has ended in Egypt, leading to a spree of reopenings, not least camel tours.

Cafes, shops and camel guides are allowed to operate again - AFP

02:35 PM

Canal holiday bookings surge by 150 per cent

Domestic travel can resume in England from July 4, and a number of Britons are planning a break on the water, writes Emma Cooke.

The surge in interest was reported by Black Prince, a nationwide canal holiday operator. According to the company, the majority of new enquiries are being driven by family groups booking more than one boat for 'bubble' holidays. 

With this in mind, we've rounded up 10 of the most scenic canal boat holidays, from the Avon Ring to The Lancaster Canal. 

02:19 PM

Royal Caribbean pushes back cruise ship debut

The cruise line plans to delay the launch of its newest cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas, by around six months. 

The ship's construction in the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany has been held back by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"Based on adjusted plans and timelines created in partnership with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, delivery of Royal Caribbean's newest ship is now scheduled for April 2021," said a spokesperson. 

All sailings on Odyssey of the Seas have been cancelled from November 5 to April 17, 2021.

Customers can request a refund or claim a future cruise credit which can be redeemed until December 31, 2021. 

The 4,200-passenger ship will sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

01:57 PM

Switzerland to quarantine travellers from high risk countries

The Swiss government will impose a quarantine on people returning from high-risk countries, ministers said today.

Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health will maintain and update a list of high-risk countries from which travellers returning to Switzerland will be subject to self-isolation, health minister Alain Berset said.

He gave Sweden as an example of a country which might currently fall on the list.

Switzerland is grappling with a rising number of coronavirus cases after it phased out restrictive measures.

01:40 PM

EasyJet returns to European skies

Ryanair is not only airline to ramp up its flights today. 

EasyJet, its closest rivals, is from today running around 500 flights each day across Europe, including more than 900 a week to and from the UK. It restarted a small number of flights on June 15 after all its aircraft were grounded in March, but is not increasing services with an intention to be running 75 per cent of its schedule by August. 

Both airlines require passengers to wear face masks or coverings as part of enhanced safety and hygiene measures.

British Airways has said it will make a "meaningful return" to service this month.

EasyJet is increasing its daily flights - Shutterstock

01:17 PM

Vast losses expected to global tourist destinations

A new report by the United Nations has outlined the cost to the world's travel industry from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Reuters reports: 

Global tourism revenues are expected to fall by up to $3.3 trillion due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the United States standing to lose the most, according to a U.N. study published on Wednesday.

The 'COVID-19 and Tourism' report released by The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is based on three scenarios for the industry, with lockdown measures lasting 4 months, 8 months and 12 months.

In those scenarios, revenues would fall $1.17 trillion, $2.22 trillion and $3.3 trillion respectively or between 1.5-4.2 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

"International tourism has been almost totally suspended, and domestic tourism curtailed by lockdown conditions imposed in many countries," the report said. "Although some destinations have started slowly to open up, many are afraid of international travel or cannot afford it due to the economic crisis."

The United States incurs the highest losses in all three scenarios, with a $187 billion drop in the one lasting just four months, followed by China with $105 billion. Thailand and France also stand to lose approximately $47 billion each.

Small island states such as Jamaica stand to suffer big losses in proportion to their economies, facing an 11 percent fall in GDP or $1.68 billion.

12:59 PM

'Now isn’t the time to reopen'

Lizzie Frainier has spoken to the owners of one hotel that was not able to survive the pandemic. 

She writes:

You wouldn’t expect a conversation with someone who has just announced the closure of their 10-year-long family-run business to be a positive one. But chef and owner Ben Cooke is a man that always sees the glass half full, and opportunity in heartbreak.

He has been running the successful restaurant with rooms Little Gloster on the Isle of Wight with his wife Holly for close to a decade: the name pays homage to his grandparents who also ran a hotel years earlier on the island. As for the atmosphere, panoramic sea views of the Solent accompany superb yet non-fussy dishes that show off local ingredients. An emphasis on fish is, thus, hardly a surprise. 

It is listed in the Michelin Guide and was recently awarded ‘Best Local Restaurant 2020’ by The Good Food Guide. Off the back of this, they looked set to be in the best financial position they had ever been in by the end of summer.

Read the full story

12:42 PM

No queuing for the toilet on Ryanair flights

Here is more from Telegraph Travel's interview with Michael O'Leary, the CEO of Ryanair.

He said:

  • Fares will be kept low to stimulate demand
  • Airline stopped attending conference calls with Government 
  • Passengers must not queue in aisle to use the toilet
  • There might be more coronavirus cancellations this summer

Read the full interview here

12:21 PM

Auschwitz reopens to visitors

Visitors are seen near the gate with its inscription "Work sets you free" as the memorial site of the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim reopens to visitors. 

auschqitz - AFP

12:06 PM

Travel agents half sale of holidays over air bridge fiasco

Travel agents have halted the sale of summer holidays so long as the Government is unable to give details on its plans for air bridge agreements, allowing for the resumption of overseas trips.

Lee Hunt, managing director of Deben Travel, said he was reluctant to accept bookings for July and August, adding: "Personally I’m not prepared to take the risk until there’s a bit more clarity."

It was first thought the UK air bridges would be revealed last weekend, but this was then moved to Monday, when the UK quarantine measures were up for review. On Sunday Home Secretary Priti Patel said the list of countries would be made public “in the next few days”, then this morning Business Secretary Alok Sharma said it would be “later this week”. 

Tour operators have also warned they need two weeks notice to resume operations. Noel Josephides, a director at Aito, the Specialist Travel Association, said travel companies were none the wiser. “No one has heard anything,” he said. 

On Tuesday, the European Union agreed a list of 15 non-EU countries for which border controls would be lifted from today, raising the prospect of potential loopholes for any air bridge agreements the UK attempted to implement, with travellers able to sidestep the need to quarantine for 14 days. 

11:49 AM

Holidaymakers 'stalling on summer bookings' due to air bridge confusion

UK travellers are stalling on booking summer holidays until they know the Government's air bridge plans, according to Club Med.

The all-inclusive operator said there was "pent up demand" from customers, but the lack of detail on the quarantine plans was forcing consumers to delay booking. 

A spokesperson said: "Club Med sales have shown double digit growth week on week, and last week was over 20 per cent up vs the same week last year. However, the majority of these bookings are for the winter, as people are still unsure where they will be able to go this summer."

The spokesperson said that visits to its Greek resort web page was up nearly 1,000 per cent but "people are stalling on actually bookings since they don't know whether Greece will be included in the air bridges". 

11:23 AM

How to social distance on UK beaches

Around 78,000 people can fit on Bournemouth beach while comfortably obeying social distancing guidelines, new analysis has shown. 

The situation during the heatwave was described by some as "Armageddon"; and we now know that more than six times as many people were there as could have been under social distancing rules.

Spatial analysis firm Esri UK has mapped the area of 10 of the UK’s most popular beaches and examined how many people could hypothetically fit on the sand, while keeping two metres from each other. Each “person” was given a two-metre diameter of space to themselves, too. 

How social distancing would work on Bournemouth beach - ESRI UK

Read the full story

11:03 AM

Watch: What can we expect from UK air bridges?

Air bridge details are now set to be announced by the Government on Thursday.

Here is everything you need to know.

10:44 AM

Spain and Portugal celebrate reopening border

Neighbours Spain and Portugal reopened their border on Wednesday to all travellers after a three-month closure to prevent the spread of coronavirus, bringing relief to local business owners who have struggled to make ends meet without tourism.

"It has been miserable since we reopened in May. There are no customers," Jose Valentim, a restaurant owner in the Portuguese border town of Elvas, told Reuters. "We hope that from today onwards some Spaniards will be able to come."

In the presence of Spain's King Felipe and Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa, solemnly opened their 1,200-km (750 mile) border.

During a short ceremony in the Spanish city of Badajoz, with the flags of both countries behind them, the assembled leaders stood still as a small string orchestra played their respective national anthems.

Residents applauded and shouted "Viva!" to celebrate the occasion.

09:52 AM

Austria warns residents of overseas coronavirus spikes

Austria has issued a travel warning to its citizens over a spike of coronavirus cases in the Western Balkans. 

Reuters reports: 

Austria has issued travel warnings for Western Balkan countries outside the European Union due to a rise in coronavirus infections there, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Wednesday.

The move by Austria, which has close ties to the region, is a particular blow for Serbia and Montenegro, which the EU on Tuesday added to its "safe list" of countries from which non-essential travel was allowed as of Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry said the travel warnings, which mean travellers from those countries are requested to go into 14 days' self-isolation or show a negative coronavirus test - also apply to Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

"We are hereby reacting ... to the circumstances, not only the situation in those countries but also the fact that we see, for example in our neighbouring (EU) countries Croatia and Slovenia, an increase in clusters of people returning from travel in the Western Balkans," Schallenberg told a news conference.

Infections have risen sharply in the past month in the Western Balkans, though the region has generally had lower rates than much of western Europe

09:27 AM

FAQs: Everything you need to know about air bridges

What is an air bridge, when will air bridges be announced, and where will we be able to go on holiday this summer?

Greg Dickinson has the latest on where we are with plans to resume overseas travel. 

Should I stay or should I go?

09:14 AM

Thailand mulls luxury hotel quarantine for long-stay travellers

Thailand has begun a tentative reopening of its borders, with six groups of foreign travellers allowed into the country subject to a 14-day quarantine. 

Holidaymakers are not yet able to visit the country. 

Thailand says it has had five weeks without any local transmission of the coronavirus, making it possible to reopen its borders to the following:

  1. Foreign spouses, children or relatives of individuals with work permits
  2. Foreigners with Thai residency
  3. Foreign spouses and children of Thai nationals
  4. Foreigners seeking specific medical services including eye treatment, cosmetic surgery and fertility treatment
  5. International students and their parents
  6. Foreigners who are granted a special arrangement, which includes business people, investors and guests of the government

The country's Minister of Foreign Affairs is also introducing an “Alternate State Quarantine” (ASQ) which gives special privileges to those opting for a long-term stay. They will have the option to self-fund their two-week quarantine in luxury hotels approved by the Ministry of Public Health.

It is not clear when this next phase will begin. 

08:55 AM

Eurostar to restart Amsterdam service

Eurostar will resume services to Amsterdam and Rotterdam on July 9. 

The route will restart with one train a day departing London St Pancras at 11:04 and arriving in Amsterdam Central at 16:11. Fares are available from just £40 one way.

The rail operator said it would allow flexible bookings for all travel up to December 31, with travellers able to exchange their trips free of charge up to 14 days before departure. 

Eurostar has kept its Paris-London routes running throughout the pandemic, at a reduced level. All travellers must wear masks, while the company has introduced a new seating map to enable social distancing on-board trains. 

Masks are mandatory on Eurostar trains - Bloomberg

08:29 AM

EU's safe list risks efficacy of air bridge deals

The EU yesterday revealed its "safe" list for countries outside of the bloc. The publication led to concerns it would render any UK air bridge deals pointless, as visitors could reach Britain via Europe. 

See below for the full list of EU-friendly countries:

  1. Algeria 
  2. Australia 
  3. Canada 
  4. Georgia 
  5. Japan 
  6. Montenegro 
  7. Morocco
  8. New Zealand 
  9. Rwanda 
  10. Serbia 
  11. South Korea 
  12. Thailand 
  13. Tunisia
  14. Uruguay
  15. China, subject to reciprocity

Read the full story

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