International leisure travel from the UK has finally resumed, but fears about the spread of the new “Indian variant” of the coronavirus in the UK dominates the headlines on Monday (17 May).
It’s the day everybody in the industry has been waiting as international travel resumes from most parts of the UK with the government’s ban on holidays being lifted, and the easing of other Covid-19 restrictions.
But media outlets temper the excitement over the latest stage of “unlocking” with worries about the spread of the new Indian variant of the virus in several areas of the country.
The impact of the pandemic on the industry is also laid bare by record financial losses announced by Ryanair.
Holidays thrown into chaos
Plans for holidays were “in chaos” as health secretary Matt Hancock warned against travelling to countries on the government’s new ‘amber’ list of countries, which includes key destinations such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece. Hancock said people should “certainly not” go on holiday to these destinations.
Despite the warning, the newspaper predicts the lifting of holiday restrictions will “trigger a stampede” for foreign trips, with airports expecting their busiest day of 2021 so far. (The Times)
Thousands set to jet off overseas on holiday
Holidaymakers from England, Scotland and Wales are expected to jump on aircraft on Monday to take advantage of the lifting on the travel ban. But Thomas Cook said numbers were “still small” with passenger numbers in “the hundreds” – 75% of Cook’s bookings have been for Portugal. (BBC)
New freedoms come with health warnings
Labour politicians called for the ban on international travel to stay in place due to the spread of the Indian variant just hours before it was finally lifted at midnight on Monday. While prime minister Boris Johnson urged a “heavy dose of caution” as unlocking plans went ahead. Some 30 flights to Portugal are expected to leave UK airports on Monday. (The Independent)
Foreign holidays ‘not a good idea’
Travelling abroad for holidays this year is “not a good idea” said Sir John Bell, University of Oxford’s regius chair of medicine, due to the ongoing pandemic. He suggested people “should get used to Cornwall and Bournemouth” this summer despite the end of the ban on international breaks. (The Telegraph)
Ryanair reveals record annual losses
The Irish low-cost carrier has slumped to a record loss of €815 million due to the Covid crisis. But chief executive Michael O’Leary hoped the “surge” in bookings in recent weeks will allow the company to break-even in the current financial year. (Sky News)
NHS app to contain ’Covid passport’
A new update to the NHS app released on Monday will allow users in England to prove their vaccination status and enable the platform to effectively act as a vaccine passport on the day international leisure travel resumes. (Mail Online)