30 June 2020 10:37
LONDON (Reuters) - The UK boss of TUI (TUIGn.DE), Europe's biggest holiday company, urged Britain to provide more clarity on "air bridges", which will allow Britons to go on holiday without quarantining when they return. FILE PHOTO: Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport, as Britain launches its 14-day quarantine for international arrivals, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville Britain said on Friday it would ditch a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving from some countries, likely to include France, Greece and Spain, boosting hopes for a summer recovery in the travel industry. [nL8N2E34XU] The government said it would provide more details this week with rule changes expected to come into effect the week after. Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK & Ireland, called on the government to provide details as soon as possible.
"We really do need that certainty, so if mid-week or Wednesday, or whenever it's going to be, if the government can give us that list of destinations we can go to," he told BBC Radio on Tuesday. Greece on Monday provided some clarity, saying that direct flights from Britain to Greece will not be allowed to restart until July 15. [nL8N2E652C] Flintham said the air corridors could only open after "two-way conversations" between Britain and other countries. "I think there's still going to be a few bumps in the road," he said. British health minister Matt Hancock told LBC Radio that details would be provided "very very soon", confirming it will be this week.
TUI's Flintham warned that some countries might not open up and more holidays could be cancelled. He said flare-ups of coronavirus in Britain, such as a local lockdown in the English city of Leicester announced on Monday, did not help. Government plans for quarantine-free travel in Europe have been thrown into "chaos" after Greece said that it would ban flights from the UK for another two weeks. British holidaymakers will not be allowed to fly to Greece until 15 July, despite the country opening its borders to other international visitors as of Wednesday this week. A "travel corridor agreement" between the UK government and Greece had been expected to allow holidays as early as next week and government sources had "briefed that it was likely to be among the first wave of countries opened up from July 6", The Times says. But Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that flights from Britain - along with Sweden - will not be allowed, but will remain under "continuous review", Sky News reports. The suggestion that the ban will be reconsidered means "British families with Greek getaways booked for the school summer holidays should still be able to travel", the broadcaster adds. Haris Theoharis, the Greek tourism minister, had previously told ITV News that the UK's coronavirus record was "not good enough for Britons to be allowed into the country". "I think that the UK has a big difference in terms of the current medical status of the country with Greece, so I don't think it's likely it will be there," Theoharis said. For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week's news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– The ban on Brits heading to Greece is the second setback for the air bridge scheme this week, after the Portugese government criticised plans to exclude the popular holiday destination from the UK's proposed scheme. Home Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita said that Portugal was "manifestly not where the risk is", adding that "Portugal has better public health indicators and better pandemic response indicators than the United Kingdom".