Demand for flights to Portugal has shot up in recent days ahead of the government’s hotly-anticipated traffic light reveal, which TTG understands will finally drop on Friday afternoon (7 May).
One-way Heathrow-Faro flights with British Airways are available from £273 on 15 May, two days before the expected resumption of non-essential international travel. Two days later, the flights on the same route cost from £565.
Ryanair, meanwhile, is selling Stansted-Lisbon flights for £128 on 14 May, rising to £262 on 19 May.
Flight prices do, however, drop considerably over the weeks following the proposed restart. TTG was able to find June flights to Portugal for as low as £19.
It should be noted the government is yet to formally confirm the current ban on all non-essential international travel will be lifted from 17 May.
On Friday, ministers are expected to reveal how countries will be categorised – "green", "amber" or "red" under a new traffic light system governing the restart.
Arrivals from green list countries will be subject to the least onerous restrictions – they will have to take a pre-departure test before their return to the UK, and a PCR test by the end of the second day of their return. Green list countries will come with no quarantine requirement.
Arrivals from amber list destinations will have to self-isolate at home for 10 days, and take tests on days two and eight of their quarantine, although they can use Test To Release to cut this short.
Red list arrivals will have to self-isolate for 10 days in a government-appointed quarantine hotel facility at their own expense, with tests on days two and eight.
The Times reports only a small number of European destinations will make the government’s initial green list, with Portugal long having been considered a possible candidate owing to its low rates of Covid infection.
The country’s tourism secretary Rita Marques this week told the BBC she felt the country should be a certainty for the UK’s green list.
"If Portugal is not in the green light, I don’t know exactly who is going to be there, because we have the lowest numbers in Europe,” she said. “We are ready to welcome you when you are ready to come.”
Other green list hopefuls include Malta, Gibraltar and several Greek islands, as well as Israel and Iceland.
The government has indicated it could operate a similar islands policy to the one that ran alongside last summer’s travel corridor regime, which would see the Covid situation in various island destinations considered independently of their respective mainlands.
On Thursday (6 May), the chiefs of BA, Heathrow, easyJet, Jet2.com and Manchester Airports Group urged the government not to squander the UK’s "vaccine dividend" with an "over-cautious" and "illogical" resumption of international travel that is limited in its scope and doesn’t allow vaccinated travellers to benefit from their status by subjecting them to testing requirements.