Foreign holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest

Hazel Plush
·34-min read
Restrictions on international leisure travel will only be eased pending a review in April - Getty
Restrictions on international leisure travel will only be eased pending a review in April - Getty

Overseas holidays will not be permitted until at least May 17, Boris Johnson has announced.

Outlining the post-lockdown roadmap in the Commons this afternoon, the Prime Minister explained that current restrictions on international leisure travel will only be eased pending a review in April, led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Domestic holidays will also be prohibited until April 12 at the earliest, Johnson confirmed. While an initial tranche of wider restrictions will be lifted in the first stage of the plan, which begins next month, domestic holidays will not be permitted until the second stage of the strategy – due to begin in seven weeks’ time, at the earliest.

The current raft of restrictions on international travel – including triple testing of passengers, quarantine hotels, and ten-day mandatory quarantine – will remain in place until mid-May.

However, the review will investigate how they could be lifted through vaccine certificates for travellers who want to holiday abroad and verify their inoculations and through testing for both inbound and outbound travellers.

Scroll down for more on this, and other travel headlines.

06:08 PM

That's a wrap

Thankyou for following today's travel headlines. Before we sign off, here's a quick recap:

  • Foreign holidays banned until at least May 17 under coronavirus roadmap

  • Easter staycations off table as Covid roadmap makes April 12 earliest date

  • Grant Shapps announces 'new' Travel Taskforce

  • Pitchup.com: Bookings have quadrupled since PM announcement

  • 'This is not going to #SaveOurSummer': the travel industry reacts

Join us tomorrow for more breaking travel news.

05:56 PM

10 overlooked corners of Britain for a post-lockdown escape

North York Moors National Park - Getty
North York Moors National Park - Getty

We'll leave you this evening with some post-lockdown travel inspiration...

With bookings already on the rise again for breaks in April onwards (see below), our UK experts have suggested their favourite lesser-known corners for a summer escape.

Our favourite underrated corners of Britain.

05:49 PM

Virgin Atlantic: “We are ready to help develop the flightpath for aviation, in time for travel this summer'

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic is hopeful that international travel will restart for summer holidays:

Following the Prime Minister’s update on the UK roadmap out of lockdown, we look forward to working with the Department for Transport and the Global Travel Taskforce on a framework to reopen the skies safely.

Building on our flexible booking policies, we will provide customers with the confidence to book ahead and plan for the summer, whether reuniting with family or reconnecting with businesses and colleagues.

On the back of the tremendously successful UK vaccine programme, we recognise the importance of protecting the UK from new strains of Covid-19, so that the achievements of the last few months are not undermined. Therefore, we look forward to developing a risk-based framework, based on science and data, to allow the safe restart of travel at scale.

We are ready to work as part of an industry task-force with Government experts, to develop the flightpath for aviation, in time for travel this summer.

05:39 PM

'The Easter holiday closure has cost us approximately £4,000'

Britain's hospitality companies will be forced to remain closed during Easter - Getty
Britain's hospitality companies will be forced to remain closed during Easter - Getty

Britain's family-run accommodation businesses are already counting the cost of an Easter break without visitors. Phil Russell, owner of Tor View Shepherds Huts in Maesbury, Somerset, tells Telegraph Travel:

The Easter Holiday closure has cost us approximately £4,000 – the Easter Weekend closure alone will cost £1,000. Having a start date helps, as we can begin to plan and update our booking calendar.

Raoul Fraser, founder of holiday park company Lovat Parks, says:

We are extremely disappointed that none of our customers are able to visit our parks for the Easter weekend. We are very grateful for the Government support over the past year and hope that our holiday parks will be able to re-open safely on April 12.

05:27 PM

ABTA boss: 'Millions of people are desperate to travel again'

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said:

The Prime Minister’s announcement today sets an ambition to get people travelling before the summer – which will not only be crucial for travel businesses whose revenues have been wiped out, but also for the millions of people who are desperate to travel again.

We’re pleased to see the Government has responded to our calls to engage with industry on a specific roadmap for travel, and we welcome that the Global Travel Taskforce will reconvene to work with ABTA and the wider travel industry on a plan for reopening travel.

Even with the prospect of travel resuming, we renew our call to the Chancellor to use his Budget next week to provide tailored financial support to travel agents and tour operators, recognising the pressing need that travel companies have for financial assistance if they are to come through the weeks ahead.

05:22 PM

Grant Shapps announces 'new' Travel Taskforce

The Transport Secretary has taken to Twitter (where else?) to announce a 'new' Global Travel Taskforce:

Last month, the original Global Travel Taskforce – which had the very same purpose – was quietly disbanded. Now, it appears to be back on the cards once again.

05:09 PM

British Airways: 'We want to work with Government’s Taskforce'

Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, has urged the Government to work with the airline on an industry recovery plan. He tells Telegraph Travel:

It is critical we start looking at a way to restart travel and we are pleased the Government has acknowledged that.

We are an island nation whose history and future is defined by its connections with the world. UK Aviation supports 1.56 million jobs and one in ten jobs depends on travel and tourism, contributing £200 billion to the UK economy.

We support a data-led approach that protects public health. We want to work with Government’s Taskforce on a roadmap now to ensure that aviation is in a strong position to support the UK as we emerge from the pandemic.

05:02 PM

Pitchup.com: Bookings have quadrupled since PM announcement

Once approval is given for Step 2, overnight stays will be permitted outside the home but must be restricted to single households - Getty
Once approval is given for Step 2, overnight stays will be permitted outside the home but must be restricted to single households - Getty

Bookings for summer camping trips have quadrupled since the Prime Minister's announcement this afternoon, says Pitchup.com.

"At 4.30pm today, 1,000 people across the UK were looking at Pitchup.com and we’ll be closely monitoring to see how that converts to bookings over the coming hours and days," says founder Dan Yates. "Bookings have more than quadrupled since 4pm (compared to 40 made in the hour between 1-2pm today) and we expect that to continue to rise."

He continues:

38% of bookings made so far for 2021 are across April, May and June, which is great news given today's announcement that self-catering accommodation may be able to reopen from 12th April. We've also seen strong bookings for July and August (27% and 29% of bookings respectively, in the past 7 days) and are anticipating a surge as of this afternoon to add to those earlier bookings.

We’ve seen annual growth in bookings of more than 100% this week so far (compared to the same period last year). Our peak day last summer saw 6500 bookings in a single day and we're keeping a close eye on reservations to see whether this week's surge will rival that.

04:55 PM

‘The ban on self-catering breaks with your household makes no sense'

"It absolutely beggars belief that our totally contactless sector is seen as the same risk as personal services, gyms and non-essential shopping," says Nicola Bunting, owner of Derbyshire Country Houses, a self-catering business. She tells Telegraph Travel:

We had our hopes pinned on Easter. We have families that booked 2020 moved to 2021 – so it’s going to be devastating to move them to 2022.

Currently you can walk around a supermarket with total strangers, yet you are unable to take a holiday with your household [which makes] absolutely no sense at all, our totally contactless sector should be open. We have staff on furlough who are desperate to be back at work, we have received grants, without which we would certainly have been unable to continue trading.

Moving forward, [if and] when the Government opens the borders allowing travel overseas while implementing a rule of six scenario, which is exactly what happened last year, our larger properties will be financially crippled as we are unable to welcome more than six guests, and the 7+ group bookings will get on a plane and rent a villa/holiday cottage abroad – taking the furlough pay with them.

04:38 PM

'This blanket ban on non-essential travel is torturous for the industry and travellers alike'

Jenny Southan, founder of travel trend forecasting agency Globetrender:

In our 2021 Travel Trend Forecast, which was published at the beginning of the year, we said 'the only way to over-turn the travel restrictions that are still in place will be with vaccinations and rigorous, organised Covid testing'. This still stands. We think the Government needs to stop being so cautious about opening up international travel and give people back their freedom as a matter of urgency.

The vaccination programme is well underway here, and there are thorough testing protocols now at borders so there is no reason that people should be prevented from going on holiday, or travelling abroad for work or going to see family, or any other 'non-legally permitted' reasons. At the very least, people should be allowed to leave the UK if they so choose, to take an extended 'workation', for example, or spend time in a second home overseas.

The expense of Covid testing and the complexity of other country's entry requirements will put a lot of people off anyway. This blanket ban on non-essential travel is torturous for the travel industry and travellers alike. It's time they ended it today.

04:28 PM

'This is not going to #SaveOurSummer': the travel industry reacts

Miles Morgan, Founder of Miles Morgan Travel agency:

Phil Bloomfield, Corporate and Consumer Communications, dnata Travel Group:

04:20 PM

'It doesn’t matter what the state of play is in the UK, because air corridors won’t be there'

Those hoping to enjoy international holidays this summer may well be disappointed, warns Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at StrategicAero Research:

Lifting travel restrictions in May suggests that there will be a degree of some sort of summer travel and holiday season. But the devil is in the detail – much of this will depend on which countries the UK has air corridors with and who we don’t.

Until people know that, planning for a summer getaway will invariably be delayed, causing yet extended misery for airlines, airports and hoteliers who may have hoped for some travel to occur before or around Easter. That’s now clearly not going to happen – so they’ll have to play with the hand that they’ve been dealt.

It's also worth remembering that while the UK powers ahead with vaccine rollout and eventual lockdown easements – all of this means nothing when other nations, primarily would-be destinations for UK travellers, are still behind the curve – and if those countries are still in lockdown or have tight restrictions, then it doesn’t matter what the state of play is in the UK, because air corridors simply won’t be there.

04:14 PM

'This will be the final nail in the coffin for many travel companies'

John Grant, senior analyst at OAG, tells Telegraph Travel:

The Government has failed the airline industry all the way through the pandemic and [today's announcement] is just probably going to be the final nail in the coffin for some companies.

Airlines were hoping for better news, tour operators are banking on an early season rush – and that has now evaporated.

At the moment there are nearly 16 million scheduled seats that were planned to operate from early April to the middle of May from the United Kingdom; nearly 60 per cent of those would have been operated by UK based airlines providing UK based jobs. Boris may say he will not 'pull the rug' from under UK industries but he’s once again left the travel sector on a very slippery piece of lino.

04:02 PM

Easter staycations off table as Covid roadmap makes April 12 earliest date

Easter staycations have been ruled out this year after Boris Johnson said overnight stays away from home cannot take place until April 12 at the earliest.

While an initial tranche of restrictions will be lifted in the first step, which begins next month, domestic holidays will not be permitted until the second step of the strategy.

Step 2 will begin on April 12 at the earliest, Mr Johnson said. The exact timing will depend on four key tests, which include the continued rollout of the vaccine programme and evidence that the jabs are slashing Covid hospitalisations and deaths.

Once approval is given for Step 2, overnight stays will be permitted outside the home but must be restricted to single households. This will allow families to book self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, that does not rely on indoor facilities shared between households.

Lucy Fisher has the full story.

04:00 PM

Foreign holidays banned until at least May 17 under coronavirus roadmap

Foreign holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest as a review is conducted into the safety of reopening borders.

The current raft of tough travel restrictions – including triple testing of passengers, quarantine hotels for arrivals from red list countries and 10-day self-isolation at home for other travellers – will remain in place until mid-May.

However, the review will investigate how they could be lifted through vaccine certificates for travellers who want to holiday abroad and verify their inoculations, and through testing for both inbound and outbound travellers.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, will head the review which is expected to report on April 12 in time for a potential decision by May 17.

IATA, an international association of airlines that is in talks with the Government, claims its vaccination app, operating in a similar way to yellow fever certificates, could be ready to go live by the end of March.

Charles Hymas has the latest.

03:58 PM

Balearics prepares for British tourists to return 'by May'

The Balearic Islands' Minister for Tourism, Iago Negueruela, has said the islands hope to reopen to British tourists by May.

Speaking to Telegraph Travel, Negueruela said: "We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure a safe return to tourism so that we are ready for when British visitors are able to travel once more.

"Our ambition has been to reduce the infection levels during the winter months and create safe protocols to allow tourism to resume. Looking at the changes in infection rates in the Balearic Islands over the past few weeks, data shows that cases fell to their lowest level since August 2020. This is excellent news. We are gradually reopening the economy, and we hope to kick start the tourism season in May."

Ibiza - Getty
Ibiza - Getty

Negueruela added that the islands hope to be among the first to accept vaccine certificates for arrivals. "The Balearic Islands has proposed to Spain’s central government that the archipelago becomes one of the first places where the vaccine passport is trialled.

"In 2020, the Balearics pioneered a safe tourism initiative called the Pilot Plan; a test project which launched in June 2020 to bring visitors back to the Balearic Islands in a controlled and safe way. This Pilot Plan helps to illustrate our capacity to trial these kind of initiatives before they are rolled out on a wider scale."

03:37 PM

'Holiday rentals should be the first to restart'

Merilee Karr, chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA), tells Telegraph Travel:

Short term and holiday rental properties are a COVID-safe and secure type of accommodation for people to holiday in because they enable easy social distancing and the properties themselves are cleaned in accordance with VisitBritain and industry-wide cleaning protocols introduced in collaboration with Government last year.

Short term rentals provide a ‘home-from-home experience’ that many people are looking for at the moment and allow for other COVID-safe behaviours such as home deliveries of groceries or meals and not mixing with people outside of a single household or approved bubble.

For these reasons, short term rentals should be regarded as one of the first, accommodation types to be allowed to take bookings again. We believe Easter would be a reasonable date to start allowing people to book a short term rental so that people can safely see family members outdoors, while having a place to stay nearby.

The Government needs to be clear on the messaging it gives people what is and isn’t allowed so that they can follow the guidelines without worrying about inadvertently breaking them.

03:18 PM

Boris Johnson announcement: Follow live

Boris Johnson is to unveil the roadmap out of lockdown to MPs in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has said that he hopes the UK's exit from the current stay-at-home rules will be "cautious but irreversible", as he sets out a number of key dates which are likely to see different restrictions lifted.

Watch live at the top of this blog, and follow for live travel-related updates.

03:01 PM

'We thought we were going to die': How the terrifying Boeing 777 flight from Denver unfolded

A United Airlines plane suffered a fiery engine failure on Saturday shortly after taking off from Denver for Hawaii, dropping shards of metal and other debris on a residential area.

Video footage shot from inside the aircraft - which had 231 passengers and 10 crew onboard - showed the right engine ablaze and wobbling on the wing of the Boeing 777-200, its cover entirely missing as the aircraft desperately turned back.

This is how the flight unfolded.

02:46 PM

High-end staycation demand up 239 per cent

Britons are preparing to spend big this summer when it comes to domestic holidays, according to new data.

August revenue for 4 and 5-star hotels is up 239 per cent, as many consumers decide against a foreign holiday and splash out on a UK break instead, found technology firm Avvio. Some are hedging their bets sooner than August, with sales up 63 per cent for June and 166 per cent for July.

The company, which has analysed over 400 million online journeys, also reports a 58 per cent surge in extended families booking hotels and self-catering accommodation this summer compared to last, and a 76 per increase in how much they're spending. The data also indicated a 41 per cent rise in how long guests are getting away for.

Avvio’s Chief Commercial Officer, Michael De Jongh, says: “Many consumers feel it’s too risky to book a foreign holiday, so they’re using the money they would have spent going abroad to treat themselves to an incredible stay at a 4- or 5-star hotel in the UK instead. It may well be the first time many of them have stayed in such a high-end hotel.”

02:32 PM

German band turn van into club so fans can rock out one at a time

A German rock band have turned a van into a club where they stage gigs for one fan at a time as a way of reaching music-lovers during the pandemic.

The two-piece band, Milliarden is separated from the 'audience' by a plastic sheet,and performs acoustic versions of their songs. A club atmosphere is created with lighting effects, posters and plastic roses.

A single fan enjoy's Milliarden's concert - Reuters/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
A single fan enjoy's Milliarden's concert - Reuters/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

“The fact that we have the club with us, that we are the club owners, so to speak, is something we use to get to the people who are not so close to this, to this cultural landscape, who are not in the big cities,” band member Ben Hartmann said. “We actually went to the villages and stopped in front of people’s houses and played for them. A crisis like this one brings so many opportunities that you only recognise once you do stuff. You just have to do it.”

Large cultural events, including concerts, have become virtually impossible in Germany due to the pandemic.

“I’m just happy. Just happy. It was so nice ... It was so great, it was really great,” said fan Nadine Spichal, exiting the van parked outside a Berlin nightclub.

02:23 PM

Tui believes it can work with the government to 'safely unlock travel this year'

A spokesperson from the travel company commented:

We know how important summer holidays are for our customers and believe that with a risk-based approach we can work with government to safely unlock travel this summer. We would like to reassure customers that we are constantly reviewing our flexibility policy and have been cancelling holidays on a rolling basis, in line with confirmed government advice.

02:11 PM

My airline will refund my cancelled outbound flight – but not my return journey

Reader Neil Kerrison has found himself at the short end of the rule that there is no right to a refund for flights arriving in the UK from outside Europe – even if you have bought a return ticket in the UK.

On Jan 30 2020, I booked two return flights from Gatwick to Toronto with Air Transat departing on April 23. Because of the pandemic, the airline cancelled the flights on April 3 by email and attached two vouchers, each showing a travel credit of £447.22.

The terms of the vouchers say they must be used within 24 months and can only be used by the person in whose name they are issued. A few months later I received another email from Air Transat saying that it would refund the cost of the outbound flights but only give a credit for the return flight.

I have written to Air Transat several times asking for a full refund but its agents claim they have no authority to process one. Is this a common practice among airlines?

Read our consumer expert, Gill Charton's advice here.

02:00 PM

Great British Getaways: 10 amazing UK wildlife holidays for 2021

Richard Madden shares some wondrous wildlife breaks to take this year.

Unsurprisingly, given the ongoing uncertainty about foreign travel due to the pandemic, staycations are on the rise. We wildlife enthusiasts are also rethinking our plans and discovering that there is much more on our own door-step than we ever imagined.

From attending a Festival of British Wildlife in Scotland in May to a family seal snorkelling adventure in the Farne Islands, here are ten ideas to whet your appetite this spring and summer.

Find all 10 breaks here.

Pine martens are among the charming creatures to spot in the highlands - Getty
Pine martens are among the charming creatures to spot in the highlands - Getty

01:49 PM

'The positive health metrics justify an earlier reopening of UK travel'

An April or May restart of domestic travel - "even a limited one" – would be "be significant advantage in the battle for survival" says Kate Nicholls , the CEO of UKHospitality.

We await confirmation of the reopening details and we hope that there will be some scope for limited reopening ahead of the rumoured June date. An April or May restart, even a limited one, would be significant advantage in the battle for survival and revival after a dreadful year. It would provide a confidence boost at a make-or-break time for many businesses. A delayed reopening in June will mean that businesses lose half the vital summer season and puts a dent on confidence for the rest of the year.

Capacity constraints mean it is difficult for hotels to make up these lost sales and every day that they remain closed, costs continue to pile up. The positive health metrics are there to justify an earlier reopening. These businesses have been housing key workers, NHS staff and vulnerable people through the peaks of the pandemic. They already have their tried and tested systems in place to keep guests and staff safe and operate securely, so an April or May reopening is feasible.

01:33 PM

'Another ruinous summer season' for travel?

Given the tempered pace at which the current lockdown will apparently be eased in phases, it is "unlikely" that a re-opening of borders with a view to normalising air travel will come before Easter, says Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at StrategicAero Research. He tells Telegraph Travel:

Some of this will be paced by the need to see how infection rates fare with re-opening of schools and some businesses, but also because with nearly 35 per cent of the UK population now vaccinated, there is the “unknown unknown” of how transmission rates vary with greater social interaction on a much larger scale. And until there’s some data to support further lockdown easement, anyone planning a summer vacation overseas would be better holding off until things are guaranteed.

And of course, on the back of that, the financial torture to airlines, airports, hotels and other associated industries will continue unabated. Further job losses will be inevitable, particularly if the furlough scheme is also wound down.

So while personal freedoms will be much coveted, there doesn’t appear to be anything on the horizon for aviation to look forward to apart from another ruinous summer season.

01:16 PM

In pictures: Niagara Falls freezes over

As the US deep freeze continues, Niagara Falls has succumbed to sub-zero temperatures.

While the Canadian side of the waterfall is still flowing, the US side is encrusted with icicles – and the surface and spray have frozen.

Frozen Niagara Falls - Reuters
Frozen Niagara Falls - Reuters
Frozen Niagara Falls - Reuters
Frozen Niagara Falls - Reuters

See more remarkable photos.

01:09 PM

'There is no logical reason why UK holidays cannot restart immediately'

Allowing self-catering holidays to resume offers a zero-risk way to lift the gloom, says Oliver Smith.

Depriving people of human contact for months on end, and cutting off almost every avenue of pleasure – from meals out to family gatherings, amounts to the most cruel and dangerous social experiment ever conceived by a supposedly democratic government. Only the supremely oblivious could possibly think otherwise.

During last year’s spring lockdown, the Mental Health Foundation reported that one in five people had experienced suicidal thoughts. Our current plight, without sunny weather and an element of novelty to sustain us, feels even more bleak.

Is there a single logical reason why my wife and I are unable to swap the London flat in which we’ve been all-but incarcerated since November for a holiday cottage in a prettier corner of the country?

Read the comment in full – and tell us, do you agree?

12:53 PM

Searching for Victorian ghosts in Britain's seaside resorts

The skeletal remains of Brighton's West Pier - Getty
The skeletal remains of Brighton's West Pier - Getty

It's not just the pier 'ghost train' that's haunted – there are lots of ghouls along Britain's shores, finds Chris Leadbeater.

Dare you visit?

12:37 PM

'We were so hopeful that a spring staycation boom in the UK would be possible'

The general manager of a London hotel has spoken to Telegraph Travel of the 'heartbreaking' idea of not being able to open until summer. Andrew Coney, of The HARI Belgravia, says:

There is no doubt that there would be a devastating financial impact for hotels should hospitality not be able to reopen until June, however alongside this, there is the equally important impact on the mental health of the hospitality industry’s staff and customers.

With so much pent up demand for the holidays, arts, shopping, restaurants and more, the industry felt so hopeful that a spring staycation boom in the UK would be possible and we really banked on being able to open our doors by Easter.

It’s heartbreaking and whilst we are trying to remain as positive as possible, the idea that Easter stays might not be on the cards is a huge blow.

12:20 PM

Disneyland Hong Kong reopens to visitors

Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong has reopened its gates – but there are still strict restrictions inside.

An employee holds a sign reminding visitors to maintain social distance  - Bloomberg
An employee holds a sign reminding visitors to maintain social distance - Bloomberg
A visitor uses a smartphone to scan a QR code for the LeaveHomeSafe Covid-19 contact-tracing app - Bloomberg
A visitor uses a smartphone to scan a QR code for the LeaveHomeSafe Covid-19 contact-tracing app - Bloomberg

12:06 PM

UK hotels: If Easter staycations are prohibited, more businesses will fail

If Britain's hotels are forced to remain closed until June, many may be forced to 'close for good', says Sally Beck, the general manager of Royal Lancaster London:

With the success of the vaccines we should be able to offer staycations for at least members of the public that can prove they’ve had the vaccine – the hotel industry has gone through so much and we are all struggling to stay afloat.

We have proven that we can offer safe stays for guests in a socially distanced manner with contactless check in, and check outs, offering contactless room service and minibar service rather than dining in our restaurants and bars.

To be able to have some business stay with us over the Easter period may mean the difference of actually being able to continue trading rather than closing for good.

11:51 AM

How to make your post-lockdown travels a force for good

Volcanoes Safaris, a group of luxury lodges, provides ethical safaris in Rwanda and Uganda - Getty
Volcanoes Safaris, a group of luxury lodges, provides ethical safaris in Rwanda and Uganda - Getty

Fair wages, good working conditions and empowerment of local communities is at the heart of the Fairtrade cause, so for Fairtrade Fortnight – which begins today – we’ve found some of the best holidays you can book that don’t come with a human cost.

Change the world for the better, one trip at a time.

11:34 AM

Emirates operates its first fully-vaccinated flight

Emirates has today operated its first flight staffed entirely by fully-vaccinated crew, pilots and support staff.

Flight EK215 from Dubai to Los Angeles departed at 8:30am local time, with every aspect from check-in and security to baggage handling provided by vaccinated staff. The aircraft itself was staffed by inoculated crew and pilots.

Emirates began its vaccination drive in January, and has provided almost 26,000 staff members with both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinopharm vaccines. This amounts to approximately 44 per cent of its workforce.

The flight was staffed entirely by vaccinated personnel - Getty
The flight was staffed entirely by vaccinated personnel - Getty

Earlier this month, Singapore Airlines became the first airline to operate a flight staffed entirely by vaccinated personnel.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates' chief operating officer, said: “Our operational workforce are at the aviation frontline, helping people get to where they need to be, and moving essential goods to global communities.

“Protecting our people with vaccinations is important – for them, for our community, for the smooth running of our operations, and also for our customers as it introduces of an additional layer of protection when they travel with us.”

11:20 AM

'We must hope that common sense prevails'

If Britain's hotels are not able to open until June, they face 'potentially ruinous hardship', says Peter Hancock, Chief Executive of Pride of Britain Hotels:

At the moment we only have speculation about the Government’s road map out of lockdown, but hoteliers will face potentially ruinous hardship if it is true that hotels will not be allowed to open fully, with unrestricted indoor dining and household mixing, until June.

Even with furlough support the fixed costs of rent, National Insurance, insurance, maintenance, power and myriad annual contracts mean it is not viable to only trade partially. We must hope that common sense prevails, and the ultra-safe environment offered to hotel guests is not delayed a day longer than is absolutely necessary.

Forward bookings from April onwards are strong, so we know the demand is there for a fantastic and rapid recovery when it comes. It would be a tragedy if all those bookings had to be cancelled by the venues themselves.

11:06 AM

10 things you didn't know about building cruise ships

Creating a cruise ship is a complex procedure that brings together a wide range of cutting-edge technologies in a finite space - Getty
Creating a cruise ship is a complex procedure that brings together a wide range of cutting-edge technologies in a finite space - Getty

A ship is the largest human construction capable of moving across the globe. Not surprising then, that putting a cruise ship together is a tour de force of structural engineering.

We spoke to Per Lindqvist, the US business director for Tillberg Design of Sweden Inc – which has created the design concepts for illustrious ships, including Regent Seven Seas Splendor, Crystal Endeavor and Norwegian Encore.

Here's how to build a 'floating city'.

10:49 AM

Air New Zealand to trial 'digital health passport'

Air New Zealand will trial a 'digital health passport' on flights between Auckland and Sydney, starting in April.

The airline says it will 'be amonfg the first' to trial the IATA Travel Pass digital health passport, joining Qatar Airways (which will offer it on its Doha-Istanbul route from March), Emirates and Etihad.

Users will create a 'digital health wallet' linked to their e-passport, which will update automatically with their vaccination and testing status. Those that meet the border criteria of their destination will be issued a 'green tick to travel'.

The Air New Zealand trial will initially run for three weeks.

10:31 AM

My airline will refund my cancelled outbound flight, but not my return journey – is this legal?

Though it sounds outrageous, there is no right to a refund for flights arriving in the UK from outside Europe – even if you have bought a return ticket in the UK.

Gill Charlton, our consumer champion, explains your rights.

10:12 AM

Lockdown roadmap month-by-month

A tourist at Hastings beach last June - Getty
A tourist at Hastings beach last June - Getty

From the reopening of pubs to summer holidays, what can we expect from the PM's plan to unlock the UK?

Ahead of the official announcement this afternoon, here's everything we know so far.

Spoiler alert: Travel doesn't get a look-in until June/July.

09:56 AM

Search for missing British hiker in Pyrenees will 'probably have to wait till spring'

Esther Dingley has been missing since November - ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS
Esther Dingley has been missing since November - ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS

French police say they will "probably" have to wait until spring to continue the search for a British hiker who went missing late last year in the Pyrenees.

Esther Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22.

French police captain Jean Marc Bordinaro told The Times "all possible investigations" in French territory have been carried out "without any result".

Read the full story.

09:40 AM

'The vaccine is supposed to let us live': Travel leaders call for an end to draconian restrictions

Ahead of an official announcement today, it is feared that overseas holidays could remain off the cards until the summer – at best.

Here, travel leaders outline why the Governments needs to be bolder.

09:23 AM

Last surviving male member of Brazilian indigenous group dies of Covid

There are fears that health workers may have inadvertently spread the virus to indigenous communities - AFP
There are fears that health workers may have inadvertently spread the virus to indigenous communities - AFP

The last surviving man of an exterminated Brazilian indigenous group has died from complications linked to Covid-19.

Aruká Juma, who died on Wednesday aged between 86 and 90, was the last Juma man left from a tribe that once numbered 15,000. Repeated massacres in the 20th century meant that by 2002, just five Juma people were left – Mr Juma, his three daughters and a grandchild.

Brazil’s indigenous groups are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 because of their isolation, communal way of life and poor healthcare provisions.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many indigenous groups sought to cut themselves off from the outside world by closing roads and turning away visitors. Those efforts failed, however, and the virus is now widespread among indigenous communities, with almost 49,000 cases and 969 deaths and 162 tribes affected, according to Government figures.

Daniel Capurro has the story.

09:09 AM

UKHospitality: 'Travel and hospitality companies need additional support'

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, has warned that hotels and restaurants may not survive if forced to remain closed for much longer:

09:01 AM

‘Hotels are one of the best managed and safest spaces to be’

Mr & Mrs Smith specialises in luxury breaks in the UK and overseas - Mr & Mrs Smith
Mr & Mrs Smith specialises in luxury breaks in the UK and overseas - Mr & Mrs Smith

Without definitive dates, the Government is creating costly and unnecessary obstacles for a sector already on its knees, says Tamara Lohan, co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith:

We understand the necessity of lockdown to save lives and relieve pressure on the NHS. However, travel isn’t something that can be switched on at the drop of a hat. We desperately need a roadmap so our customers, hoteliers, airlines and everyone in between can prepare for saving not just the summer but our industry. With infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths thankfully decreasing and the vaccine rollout at full speed, now’s the time to be bold for business.

A further irony is that, despite being last on the list for re-opening, hotels are not linked to high numbers of cases and are not a leading environment for transmission – certainly compared to other areas such as retail. Hotels are one of the best managed and safest spaces to be: separate rooms, highly trained staff, socially-distanced restaurants, cleaning teams and meticulously managed Covid-19 protocols. This has been corroborated by a recent research study conducted by UKHospitality and CGA.

We must have clarity if we’re to survive – not just as a business, but as an industry that’s the third largest employer in the UK, responsible for three million jobs directly and a further 1.8 million indirectly.

08:55 AM

Aircraft grounded in US and Japan over engine failures

United Airlines grounded 24 of its Boeing 777s on Sunday while Japan also suspended some of its fleet, after two jets using the same family of engines showered debris on the ground shortly after take-off.

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive calling for the inspection of Boeing 777s, following two separate incidents involving Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines on Saturday.

"We reviewed all available safety data," the FAA said in a statement. "Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes."

David Millward has the full story.

08:45 AM

Poland could demand negative test result at border, minister says

Poland is expected to announce new rules this week demanding a negative coronavirus test result to enter the country, Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said today.

A person with a negative coronavirus test result will not have to quarantine after entering the country, Niedzielski told private broadcaster TVN. The new rules are likely to be announced at the end of the week.

He added that Poland is at the start of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic which is likely to peak at the end of March or beginning of April.

Read more: I've been vaccinated – so where can I go on holiday this summer?

08:30 AM

A quick catch-up on the headlines

Before we begin, the key travel headlines from last week:

  • Airlines refuse 2.3 million people refunds

  • Germany extends ban on UK arrivals

  • Britons warned holiday cottages are booking up for 2021

  • Wales will block travellers from 'high incidence' areas over Easter

  • Dozens more businesses call for overseas travel to restart by May 1

  • Crystal Cruises will require passengers to be vaccinated

​Now, on with today's travel news.