UK government ‘in talks’ over air bridges to Spanish islands

A UK government source has told the BBC that talks are under way with Spain about introducing air bridges with the Balearic and Canary Islands.

If signed off, the development would mean people arriving in the UK from the islands would not have to self-isolate for 14 days.

On Saturday, the UK government removed Spain from the ‘safe list’ of countries that do not require travellers to quarantine for 14 days on their return.

Industry leaders questioned the timing and scope of Spain quarantine decision and queried why the Canaries and Balearic Islands were included in the measures when updated FCO guidance advises against non-essential travel only to mainland Spain.

The BBC said its source indicated that a fresh decision on whether to relax restrictions on the islands ‘would not be made in the immediate future’. It said an industry source had told it the government wanted to study more data from Spain’s Islands before deciding.

Abta also called on the government to introduce a regional approach to its quarantine policy. A spokesperson said: “Such an approach might enable travel to the Balearics and Canary Islands, which are immensely popular destinations for British holidaymakers at this time of year.”

They added: “The announcements by the government relating to travel to and from Spain have major financial implications for travel businesses that are already under significant pressure. The costs associated with stopping and starting operations are considerable, and businesses need to be able to plan ahead with more conviction.

“Protecting public health is rightly a priority and it is understandable that decisions are being kept under constant review but no specific information has been shared by the government as to the precise criteria or infection rates being used to determine policy positions, making it impossible for travel businesses to make more effective business decisions.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, also urged the government to reconsider the quarantine restrictions for the islands – and called for better communication on “big changes” to policies on popular destinations.

She said: “This change in government advice will have huge ramifications on consumer confidence when it comes to booking travel to Spain, which along with its islands had been dominating in terms of bookings for the summer season.

“The health and safety of travellers is of course of paramount importance; however, it is vital that the government starts to consult with the travel industry ahead of making big changes to air corridors such as Spain.

“As an industry we are well versed in acting with speed and agility, but we need to know in advance of key decisions so that we can communicate with our customers. This clear breakdown in communication between industry and government is perpetuating a lack of confidence in the travel industry which is vital for it to recover.”

EasyJet Holidays is cancelling its holidays for the next few weeks but continuing with flight-only travel. Tui has cancelled all mainland Spanish holidays August 9 while Jet2holidays has not changed its schedule.

More than 52,000 people have signed an industry petition urging Boris Johnson to rethink the imposition of blanket quarantine rules on holidaymakers returning from all of Spain.


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