Tui has confirmed the cancellation of services to Marrakech and Agadir as Morocco imposed a ban on UK flights from midnight on Wednesday.
The action in the face of the rising level of Covid-19 cases in the UK forced the abrupt grounding of flights and will affect families with half-term holidays booked from England and Wales next week.
Tui, with about 2,000 holidaymakers reportedly in the country, said yesterday: “The Moroccan government has notified us of a change in regulation that affects flights from the UK to Morocco from 21 October.
“As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel flights to Marrakech and Agadir up to and including 31 October 2021.
“We are contacting customers in departure date order to discuss their options, which include amending to another destination or a full refund.
“We would like to reassure customers currently on holiday that we are continuing to work closely with the Moroccan authorities to confirm their return flights and will continue to keep them updated.
“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this time.”
The Tui UK website was not functioning early this morning but was working again by 7.30am.
EasyJet runs 14 flights a week to the North African country – host of next year’s delayed overseas Abta Travel Convention – and British Airways offers eight. Others flying from the UK include Ryanair, Wizz Air and Royal Air Maroc.
The Moroccan carrier suspended services “until further notice” to the UK, Germany and Netherlands following the decision by the country’s authorities. The country only reopened its birders to international flights on June 15.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “This will come as a blow to anyone who has booked a holiday to Morocco this half-term and demonstrates how international travel remains unpredictable.
“Due to Morocco’s travel ban, package holidays will be cancelled and customers will be able to rebook or claim a refund within 14 days.
“Customers who booked flights and hotels separately will be able to claim a refund for flights, as they too will be cancelled, but hotel refunds may be trickier and in some circumstances you could be reliant on the flexibility of the hotel’s booking terms and conditions.
“For those with upcoming trips to Morocco but not travelling immediately, the best advice is to wait to see if the ban remains in place. Don’t cancel your holiday as you will likely lose your right to a refund.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, said he was increasingly worried, especially by the possibility of a more transmissible Covid variant in the UK having been discovered.
He told the Telegraph: “Morocco’s move today could lead to other countries also banning UK flights in the coming weeks, especially if they have lower vaccination rates. We know that once one country takes such a decision, then others fall like dominoes.
“It all depends on whether the UK government provides enough evidence to convince other countries that the higher infection rates are manageable and not leading to serious hospitalisations.
“The last thing our sector needs right now is to fall backwards and see travel being restricted again, especially as we’re learning to live with Covid.”
Access to Morocco can be made via third countries such as Spain and France despite the country banning direct flights from the UK, the Foreign Office confirmed yesterday.