Jet2holidays has defended its decision to bring some package holiday customers home early, saying it is “responding to a very fast-moving situation with updates coming from the government with little or no notice”.
The government advised against all but essential travel to the Balearic and Canary islands on Monday, having initially only warned against travel to mainland Spain.
Those returning to the UK currently have to self-isolate for 14 days as a result of the government’s decision to remove Spain from its list of countries exempt from the quarantine.
Jet2holidays cancelled all holidays departing the UK for Spain from July 28 in response to the Foreign Office advice the day earlier.
Flights and holidays to the islands are suspended until August 9, and to the mainland until August 16.
Jet2holidays customers currently in the islands, will return as originally planned up to July 31.
Those due to return between August 1 and August 3 have been contacted and advised of their new arrangements, Jet2holidays confirmed in a communication to travel agents.
Holidaymakers originally due to return from August 4 to August 9 have also been contacted and advised of alternative arrangements. Flights scheduled to depart the UK for the islands between these dates have been withdrawn.
Customers currently in mainland Spain returning up to August 3 will return on their original departure date but may be consolidated onto a new departure time or alternative arrival airport in the UK, and have all been contacted.
For those due to return from the mainland between August 4 and August 16, passengers have been contacted and advised of their alternative arrangements.
Responding to reports some customers were unhappy with the plan, a Jet2holidays spokeswoman said: “Following the latest government advice regarding travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands from the UK, we have taken the decision to suspend flights and holidays to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza up to and including August 9. We have already suspended flights and holidays to our destinations in mainland Spain (Costa de Almeria, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia) up to and including August 16.
“We are operating empty outbound flights to pick up customers from these destinations up to and including August 3, and we are contacting customers who are currently in these destinations to advise them of their options regarding flying back to the UK.
“We appreciate that some of our package holiday customers were due to stay on holiday for longer than this and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. It is important to note that we are responding to a very fast-moving situation with updates coming from the government with little or no notice, and we have had to make decisions about our programme accordingly. We can assure these customers that we will be in touch with them to resolve any issues that they may have.”
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “Holidaymakers are increasingly stuck in the middle of a tug of war between government advice and travel company policies.
“The government had said people on holiday in the Balearic and Canary Islands don’t need to return early, but Jet2 has decided that they should.
“Jet2 must now urgently clarify whether this is a requirement or a choice, and make it clear to customers whose package holiday has been cancelled what their rights are to a partial refund for the remainder of their trip.
“The past week has seen utter confusion for holidaymakers. The government needs to work more closely with the travel industry so that tour operators and airlines can better manage these changing requirements, and holidaymakers aren’t caught between following government advice or potentially losing the money for their holiday.”