Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, has announced that England will return to lockdown for four weeks. This period, from 5 November to 2 December, will see the suspension of International holiday air travel. Only essential travel will be allowed. It is another serious setback for the aviation industry in England.
What a Second Lockdown Will Mean for the Airlines
When England began to emerge from the first lockdown quarantine was introduced on arrivals from most countries in the world. When a popular destination was declared quarantine-free, people rushed to book holidays there – the Canary Islands in particular. Holidays on the Spanish islands only became possible from 22 October. Due to the high demand, airlines scheduled extra flights and prices rose sharply.
A second lockdown will inevitably result in some cancelled flights. But some flights will still operate. In particular, those operated by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair. Travellers across Europe will still need to come home at the end of their holidays. The government has confirmed that English residents who are already on holiday do not have to rush home. So, in theory, anyone booked on the outbound flight can still fly and will lose their right to a refund. Some airlines, for example, British Airways, are already operating a flexible booking system. Passengers can change their bookings free of charge. But changes will be subject to any differences in the fares.
What a Second Lockdown in England Will Mean for Holidaymakers
Airlines and tour operators have reported a surge in last minute-minute bookings to get away before lockdown begins at 1 am on Thursday 5 November. So, some people will be able to bring their holidays forward. But arrivals in the Canary Islands are now required to produce a negative COVID-19 test which may prove a deterrent due to the time limit.
Thousands of people will be disappointed due to the cancellation of all November holidays. They may also suffer financial loss. These trips cannot go ahead as they will break the lockdown rules. The travel ban during the lockdown in England will affect all airports in England including London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham, the UK’s main airports. But it will not affect airports in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, Wales and Northern Ireland already have a lockdown in place which bans all but essential travel. Scotland is working on a local tiered system. However, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister for Scotland, has already said people should not travel between England and Scotland unless it is absolutely essential.
Refunds, Vouchers or Nothing During the Second Lockdown in England
Compensation for holidays booked during November will be a matter for the individual airlines and tour operators. The two major companies, TUI and Jet2 have already made their situation clear. They will not operate flights and holidays during the lockdown in England. They will offer refunds to all holidaymakers who have bookings with them during this period.
The rights of passengers who have booked flights and accommodation separately will depend on whether the flight operates. If an airline cancels a flight passengers booked on that flight will be entitled to a refund. If both legs of the trip are operating, there is no legal entitlement to a refund. British Airways and EasyJet are likely to provide vouchers if you are unable to travel. Ryanair and Wizz Air may not offer any form of compensation in this situation.
Passengers should first contact their tour operator or airline to establish their rights. They could also investigate other means of obtaining compensation, such as travel insurance and credit card companies.