Tui the UK’s largest tour operator as suspended all flights expected to leave on Sunday, from the Canary Islands and Spain.
Hours before the new mandatory quarantine rules came into force on Saturday evening for all travellers leaving Spain for the UK, Tui’s managing directing Andrew Flintham made the announcement.
This follows the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advising againt all but essential travel to Spain, however this does not apply to the Canary Islands and the Balearics.
British Airways and easyJet are still planning to continue with their flight schedule, despite Tui cancelling all flights.
Flintham said, “We’re incredibly disappointed that we didn’t get more notice of this announcement, or that this decision wasn’t made yesterday, as many Brits travel on holiday at the weekend.
“We also look to understand why quarantine has been issued for a whole country, including the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, when the travel advice isn’t aligned [only applying to mainland Spain]. It demonstrates why clear regional travel corridors need to be considered.
“The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is always our highest priority and welcome travel advice that protects those that holiday with us.
“However, the UK government must work closely with the travel industry as this level of uncertainty and confusion is damaging for business and disappointing for those looking forward to a well-deserved break.”
Rory Boland, editor of consumer rights magazine Which? Travel said, “Many holidaymakers will be deeply angry that the government didn’t make this decision 48-hours ago, before tens of thousands of them flew off for their summer holidays in Spain.
“Many would not have travelled if they had known they’d face 14-days of quarantine on their return.”
A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents said, “ABTA has said consistently that protecting public health must be the priority at this time, and it is vital to base decisions about travel on the best health and scientific advice.
“We suggest the government considers lifting the quarantine rules for flights to and from certain regions with lower infection rates, or to places such as the Balearic Islands or the Canaries – which are geographically distinct from mainland Spain – to avoid further damage to the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries.”
A UK government spokesman said, “The Joint Biosecurity Centre together with Public Health England have updated their coronavirus assessments of Spain based on the latest data.
“As a result, Spain has been removed from the lists of countries from which passengers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempted from the need to self-isolate.
“Protecting public health is our absolute priority and we have taken this decision to limit any potential spread to the UK.
“We’ve always been clear that we would act immediately to remove a country where necessary.”