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Travel firms cancel flights and holidays due to third lockdown

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3 min read
A UK border sign welcomes passengers on arrival at Heathrow airport in west London on December 31, 2020. - Brexit becomes a reality at 2300GMT on December 31 as Britain leaves Europe's customs union and single market, ending nearly half a century of often turbulent ties with its closest neighbours. (Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP) (Photo by BEN FATHERS/AFP via Getty Images)
England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were once again placed in full-scale lockdowns to curb the coronavirus, with Wales already under nationwide stay-at-home restrictions. Photo: BEN FATHERS/AFP via Getty Images

British Airways (IAG.L), EasyJet (EZJ.L), Tui (TUI.DE) and Virgin Atlantic are cutting flights and holidays in the wake of the new lockdowns across all parts of the UK.

The airlines and travel companies said they were reviewing their schedule​s following the announcement of tough new restrictions on Monday night. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were placed back in lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Wales is already under nationwide stay-at-home restrictions.

READ MORE: UK firms demand lifeline to cope with fresh lockdowns

British Airways confirmed it was reviewing its schedule, saying: “As always, if a customer's flight is cancelled we offer a range of options including a full refund.​”

“Our focus is on keeping crucial air links open — transporting vital goods and ensuring people who are permitted to travel can continue to do so safely,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

EasyJet said it would review its schedule but promised to maintain “essential connectivity between key cities in the UK alongside a small number of international routes.”

Customers whose flights are cancelled will be contacted and offered a free date change, voucher or refund, EasyJet said.

Tui (TUI.L) said all holidays would be cancelled until the middle of next month.

“Customers due to travel from an English airport before mid-February will be contacted in departure date order to discuss their options, which will include amending to another holiday with an incentive, receiving an ATOL-protected refund credit note with incentive, or cancelling and receiving a full refund,” the company said.

“All holidays from Scotland and Wales have been cancelled until 31 January. We will constantly review holiday cancellations in line with updated travel advice.

“Customers currently overseas can continue to enjoy their holidays as planned and we will update them directly if there are any changes to their holidays.”

Virgin Atlantic said it is reviewing its flying programme and teams will contact any customers who may be affected. It advised customers who booked through a third parties or travel agents to contact Virgin directly.

Ryanair (RYAAY) did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance’s questions about its scheduling plans.

The beleaguered airline sector has been among the worst hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic, as travel was all but halted last March due to the coronavirus.

Figures from November show the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects a net loss of $118.5bn (£87.6bn) for the industry in 2020. Airlines are expected to lose another $38.7bn in 2021.

“Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic on travel, we continue to call for sector specific support such as has been provided to hospitality, where decisions have directly affected the ability to trade,” a spokesperson for EasyJet said. “The same principle should be applied to aviation.”

EasyJet called for rapid testing to be rolled out at UK airports.

“Alongside the welcome roll-out of the vaccine, this will play a vital role in enabling normal life to resume; including travelling again for work, to visit friends and family, or for a much-needed holiday,” a spokesperson said.

Ryanair’s stock was trading around 1% lower by mid-morning in London. EasyJet was down by a similar amount. BA parent International Airlines Group (IAG.L) was, however, up.

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