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UK opens travel corridor with Canary Islands

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·3-min read

Spain’s Canary Islands have been added to the Government’s list of travel corridors, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

Denmark, the Maldives and the Greek island Mykonos have also been added to the list.

Travellers arriving in the UK from those places after 4am on Sunday no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days.

This could lead to a surge of bookings for October half-term breaks and holidaymakers seeking winter sun.

Lichtenstein is the only country to lose its quarantine exemption this week.

Tui, the UK’s largest travel firm, announced it would resume flights to the Canary Islands from Saturday.

Managing director Andrew Flintham said the removal of quarantine requirements for the islands was “a positive step forward for our business and all our customers who wish to enjoy a well-deserved break overseas”.

But he urged ministers to “work closely with the industry on airport testing so we can open up more destinations in the coming weeks”.

He added: “We must move away, where possible, from the anxiety our industry faces waiting for the new list of places people can travel to each week.

“This level of uncertainty is damaging for business and all those employed in our industry.”

A spokeswoman for travel trade organisation Abta said the announcement was “a bit of light at the end of a very dark tunnel for the travel industry”.

She continued: “We have been highlighting the need to move to a regional approach to quarantine, citing the Canary Islands as a specific example, so it is good to see the Government take action on this today.

“But we must remember that the pandemic brought foreign travel to a standstill and for most companies there has been little or no chance to start a recovery.”

Derek Jones, chief executive of luxury travel firm Kuoni, described the addition of the Maldives to the quarantine exemption list as a “very welcome development”, and said the company was anticipating a “surge in demand” for Maldives holidays.

He went on: “The Maldives is already outperforming every other destination we sell for next year, currently accounting for almost half of our bookings for 2021, and today’s news means that an even quicker getaway is now possible.

“After months of seemingly endless bad news for holidaymakers, having both the Maldives and Canary Islands on the safe corridor list will be welcomed by anyone still dreaming of a winter sun break over the next few months.”

Earlier this month, Mr Shapps launched a taskforce to develop methods of reducing the 14-day isolation period for people arriving from non-exempt locations.

He said the Government was considering a “test and release regime” which would still involve a quarantine period of at least a week.

On Thursday, British Airways’ parent company IAG announced it would operate fewer flights than planned for the rest of the year as coronavirus restrictions continued to hit demand.

The group said its flight capacity from October to December would be no more than 30% of what it was over the same period in 2019.

It reported a 1.3 billion euro (£1.2 billion) loss during the past three months.