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New U.K. Restrictions Force Airlines to Reschedule and Cancel Flights
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Monday that his country was entering a new lockdown this week. Forced by the dramatic health situation due to the new COVID-19 strain, the British government ordered its citizens to stay at home unless very exceptional circumstances required. This situation will last, at least, until mid-February if not longer. From next week, the United Kingdom will be asking to everyone entering the country a negative PCR test prior to their arrival at the British airports.
This extreme situation forces airlines to react in order to survive the hardest winter in the aviation industry. While borders are still open, many travelers would be reconsidering if flying to the UK is still worth it. As a result, many airlines with strong positions in the British market are rescheduling or canceling many of its operations to the islands. At the beginning of the week, British Airways was the first to announce its intention of reviewing their flight schedule due to the new national restrictions and asked their passengers to pay attention to their flight status.
easyJet also announced they will be rescheduling many of their flights and will focus on essential connections between the UK cities with a small number of international routes. One of the strictest airlines has been TUI that confirmed the cancellation of all their remaining flights to England until Mid-February. In the case of Scotland and Wales, the cancellations will last, at least, January 31. Whilest the German carrier had already canceled most of their flights previous to the lockdown, the remaining connections to St. Lucia, Cuba and Aruba have now also been canceled following the latest restrictions coming into force. Wizz Air, which has been opening and adding lots of flights to its British bases, is also canceling many of its remaining connections with the UK. This comes along with the cancelation of many of its flights at Mid-December when the government added London to the Tier 4 restrictions, the highest level at the time.
Ryanair, the biggest European carrier and one of the main airlines in the UK, has already announced an important downgrade to their annual forecast and canceled many flights to their base at London Stansted airport. With the new rumors of the PCR negative result requirement, the CEO of the Irish carrier, Michael O´Leary spoke to SKY and criticized that decision: “New PCR tests on arrival are going to ground almost all flights to and from the UK. For Ryanair, it means that we have been taken away almost every flight of January, February and March with only one or two daily flights. (…) The main problem is that there is no ending to these restrictions.”
With these new restrictions and the possible negative PCR test results required prior to arrival in the United Kingdom, the next months are going to be even tougher than what we have been through. All hopes are now placed on the vaccination process after the beginning of the Oxford vaccination this week.
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