International holiday air travel is to be suspended in England from Thursday 5th November under new lockdown measures announced by the UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson made the announcement that England would enter a month-long lockdown earlier this evening from Thursday which bans all but essential travel.
The move means that while people can travel by air for essential business purposes but not for leisure or holidays.
The travel ban will affect all airports in England including the UK’s main airports London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham.
Airports in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland aren’t affected by the lockdown but Wales and Northern Ireland already have a lockdown in place which bans all but essential travel. Scotland is working on a local tiered system.
The news will come as a blow to the UK airline industry which is already reeling from a devastating year which has seen around 1/3 of the normal amount of passengers flying.
It is unclear yet whether airlines and holiday companies will cancel flights. A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We note the Prime Minister’s announcement of a new national lockdown for England to slow the spread of Covid-19. Like other businesses, we are assessing the new information and we will keep our customers updated on any changes to their travel plans.”
The UK’s largest tour operator, TUI, appeared initially to be confused by essential travel with their spokesperson saying “At this time we are unclear if holidays abroad from England are able to take place from 00:01 on Thursday 5 November, so we will be updating customers as soon as we receive clarification.”
But has now said that TUI holidays due to depart after 5th November would not now go-ahead and customers would be contacted with their options.
The UK’s second largest tour operator, Jet2 hasn’t so far said whether it will be cancelling holidays and flights.
In addition to non-essential travel, the lockdown will also see non-essential shops close along bars and restaurants. People are also advised to work from home where possible.
Mr Johnson also announced that he was extending the furlough scheme until December to cover this lockdown.
I have a holiday booked, will I get a refund?
If you have a holiday booked during the lockdown period then whether you get a refund on it will depend on your airline or tour operator.
If your flight or holiday is cancelled then you are entitled to a full refund however, if the flight still operates even though you can’t fly then it is unlikely you would get a refund.
Whatever the situation, the first point of contact is your tour operator or airline.
With regards to refunds, TUI said: “If holidays are unable to take place, customers will be notified and offered the option to amend with an incentive, receive an ATOL-protected refund credit note with a re-booking incentive, or cancel and receive a full cash refund within 14 days.”