Despite the coronavirus lockdown gripping the world, with the U.K Foreign & Commonwealth Office putting an order in place to avoid all non-essential travel, flights are still flying. For the most part, air operations remain grounded. However, some airlines are still operating emergency flights in order to repatriate citizens stranded abroad, while others are still operating cargo flights. Some airlines have completely suspended operations, of course, but there are still some carriers flying, although on a skeleton operation.
But the question on everyone’s mind is “when will we be able to fly again?” We look at the latest updates from some of the larger airlines to see what they have to say on the situation…
British Airways (BA) has suspended all flights from London Gatwick and London City airports and recently moved all their operations to Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The airline is, however, one of the few still offering repatriation flights for British citizens stranded abroad, as part of the £75million deal agreed by the Government.
The latest travel advice from BA reads: “We recognise the uncertainty that coronavirus may be causing. This situation will remain under review and we will continue to provide coronavirus travel and service updates. We will do everything we can to help customers affected. We continue to liaise closely with global health authorities and Government agencies on behalf of our customers.”
BA also said there are a range of options available with many opting to amend existing bookings in terms of destination, date of travel or both – at no extra cost – in response to the fact they cannot say when a normal flight service will resume.
Virgin Atlantic has currently suspended all flights and have recently announced they would be letting go over 3,000 staff members and halting operations from Gatwick airport.
However, they have today (5 June) announced that the airline will resume flying again on 20 July, starting with flights to Orlando, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Further destinations will be announced by Virgin Atlantic in the next two weeks for the month of August, as countries begin to lift their travel restrictions.
Virgin Atlantic writes: “The situation is dynamic and fast-moving, and Virgin Atlantic continues to monitor it very closely, with the health and safety of customers and people remaining the absolute priority. All actions taken are guided by the World Health Organisation, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and by the latest advice provided by these experts.”
Click HERE to view Virgin Atlantic’s new flying schedule.
EasyJet will resume flights on June 15 from 22 European countries.
Flights will serve several UK airports including Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Inverness, Belfast and Glasgow.
The only international route on offer from the UK will be between London Gatwick and Nice, France.
A spokeswoman said the firm is “introducing new measures to help ensure safety and wellbeing, including enhanced aircraft cleaning and disinfection and requirement for passengers and crew to wear masks.”
According to the company, Ryanair will begin to operate on a broad schedule from the beginning of July.
Holidaymakers will be able to fly with Ryanair once again on July 1, when the airline is expected to release 40 percent of its schedule at 1,000 flights every day.
The airline intends to operate journeys to and out of 19 UK airports, to countries mainly situated in Europe.
Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said: “It is important for our customers and our people that we return to some normal schedules from July 1 onwards.
“After four months, it is time to get Europe flying again so we can reunite friends and families, allow people to return to work, and restart Europe’s tourism industry, which provides so many millions of jobs.
“Ryanair will work closely with public health authorities to ensure that these flights comply, where possible, with effective measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“As already shown in Asia, temperature checks and face masks/coverings are the most effective way to achieve this on short-haul (1 hour) within Europe’s single market.”
While over a million flights fewer have operated across the European network compared with 2019 since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe, air traffic is now slowly starting to pick up. EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation; here’s their prediction for how a coordinated approach to air travel recovery could look, with upturn beginning as soon as mid-June:
The situation is changing almost on a daily basis. In a statement from the Prime Minister on May 27, Boris Johnson revived hopes that an overseas summer holiday could still be on the cards in 2020. He suggested that the UK could have ‘air bridge’ agreements in place by June 29. Air bridges would allow British holidaymakers to travel to certain countries without the need to quarantine on arrival or when they return home. We hope this will apply to Business Travel too, if not sooner.
While most travel remains at a halt at this time, airlines are looking to resume operations as soon as possible. What we do know is it’s likely that what we know now may change in the coming days and weeks and there is no definitive answer on when we will be able to fly again. Of course, the one thing you can rely on is that Gray Dawes Travel will keep you up-to-date with the very latest developments, as they happen. So, keep tuning in to our Working From Home blog!
Back to Business... Travel
This article originally appeared in our special blog, Back to Business... Travel, on the Gray Dawes Travel main website. To help you through these exceptional times, we’ve created this very special blog just for travel professionals, like you.
An eclectic mix of articles covering indispensable travel news and guidance, top tips, webinars, human interest stories and business updates related to the return to business and travel as the UK lockdown eases. We’re sure it’ll provide some interesting reading material for you, as you begin to return to business... and travel!