UK travel rules risk making vacations ‘only for the rich’

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Goodbye empty middle seats.  Delta sells the entire aircraft from May 1


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Under the “traffic lights” unveiled by the government on Friday, even Britons traveling to “green” countries deemed to be low risk must pass a coronavirus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on their return to the Kingdom -United. Each test costs around £ 120 ($ 165), adding £ 480 ($ 660) to the travel bill for a family of four.

Traveling from UK was banned for months, except for people with a “reasonable excuse”. But overseas travel could resume as early as May 17 as part of the government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions introduced in January.

“The insistence on costly and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing – even for low-risk countries – will place an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unsustainable and unaffordable for many people,” said Tim. Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, which represents carriers including British Airways (ICAGY), EasyJet (ESYJY) et Virgin Atlantic.

“It is also a new setback for an industry on its knees,” he added.

EasyJet (ESYJY)Britain’s largest airline has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reconsider the plan, which also requires people to quarantine themselves in their homes for 10 days upon returning from an ‘orange’ country, or to spend 10 days days in a hotel if they went to a “red” destination. Travelers to destinations in either of these categories will be required to take two PCR tests after returning to the UK.

“It risks reversing the clock and making flying only for the rich,” EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said in a statement. “It is extremely frustrating that the task force did not deliver what the Prime Minister said he should accomplish by making this flexible and affordable. “

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said travel to and from “green” countries should be unlimited without testing.

Testing and quarantine requirements could deter many Britons from traveling abroad, meaning a second summer in a row without the quick and easy budget getaways to countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece which have largely replaced national holidays in recent decades.

The UK government will not confirm the restart date for overseas travel, or announce which countries fall into which risk category, until early May.

Travel agencies said the schedule does not provide enough clarity for their businesses or consumers. Jet2, which sells vacation packages and runs tours, said on Friday it would extend the suspension of its flights until June 23 due to continued uncertainty.

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“We still don’t know when we can start flying, where we can fly, and the availability and cost of testing. Rather than answering questions, the framework leaves everyone asking for more, ”CEO Steve Heapy said in a statement.

The UK government said restrictions on overseas travel would be reviewed on June 28, “to take into account the national and international health situation, and to see if current measures could be reversed.” Subsequent exams will take place no later than July 31 and October 1.

“The framework announced today will allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure the protection of our hard-earned vaccine deployment achievements, and provide peace of mind to passengers and passengers alike. ‘industry as we resume overseas travel, “Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

– Chris Liakos contributed reporting.

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