Airports urge government ‘relax quarantine to Spain’s islands’

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has called on the government to exclude the Balearic and Canary Islands from 14-day quarantine restrictions imposed on Sunday.

The AOA urged ministers to act as it revealed the islands accounted for 15% of all holiday flights from the UK in August last year when 2.4 million UK holidaymakers flew to the Balearic or Canary Islands.

The association suggested the government switch to ‘regional travel corridors’ rather than impose national restrictions.

Westminster imposed 14-day self-isolation or ‘blanket quarantine’ restrictions on all travellers arriving in the UK from June 8.

The quarantine restrictions were lifted on all countries on a ‘travel corridors’ list, mainly comprising destinations in the EU and Caribbean, from July 10.

However, the government announced the re-imposition of 14-day self-isolation requirements on travellers arriving from Spain from Sunday after a spike in Covid infections in the area of Barcelona.

Foreign Office advice was also changed to advise against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain but continued to exempt the Balearic and Canary Islands until the advice changed again on Monday.

The AOA noted UK regional airports will be especially hard hit by the new restrictions since flights to the islands from outside London accounted for more than one in four flights (27%) in August last year.

It urged the government to drop the blanket quarantine policy and allow travel to “safe destinations such as Lanzarote, Majorca and Ibiza”.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: “It’s right that public health concerns remain at the forefront of the government’s response to Covid-19, but the re-introduction of a blanket quarantine measure that covers the Balearic and Canary Islands is the wrong approach and risks damaging the fragile re-start of aviation.

“The government must look urgently at introducing air bridges on a regional basis which would allow travel to islands such as Lanzarote, Majorca and Tenerife, where infection rates are lower.”

She warned: “UK airports have already lost £2 billion since the start of the pandemic. The government risks cutting off the airports’ recovery before it has even begun.”

Dee suggested: “The government has acted with urgency to re-introduce quarantine measures for Spain.

“They must act with the same urgency to exempt those islands where quarantine is wholly unnecessary.”

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