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Why are so many flights between Spain and UK getting cancelled?

Because of ongoing restrictions in the UK, dozens of flights have been cancelled between the UK and Spain this summer, until at least mid-July, causing even more frustration for those trying to visit family, get back to holiday homes, or simply take a vacation.

Why are so many flights between Spain and UK getting cancelled?
Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

TUI has put many of its routes to Spain on hold until the middle of July, while EasyJet has also cancelled hundreds of its flights to amber-list countries that were scheduled for June and July. Jet2 also cancelled all international flights and holidays up to July 1st.

While most of the reports have been about budget airlines cancelling flights, there have also been some cancellations by major carriers such as British Airways.

Despite Spain being open to travellers from the UK since May 24th without the need for quarantine or a negative Covid-19 test, it still seems difficult to get a flight.

READ ALSO: CONFIRMED: Spain to welcome British tourists without PCRs or quarantine from Monday May 24th

Several disgruntled passengers have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration at more cancelled flights.

One wrote “@easyJet I have just learned my flight to Spain on July 7th is cancelled (I did not receive a notification email). I had to choose a different flight which will mess up with everything I had planned”.

Another tweeted: “@easyJet just cancelled our flights to Spain on July 5th, AGAIN!” while someone else got in touch to say their flight to Spain had been cancelled four times this year already.

But it’s not just Brits trying to get out here on holiday, one person trying to get home tweeted: “Crying because my flight home to Spain got cancelled!! All I want to do is go home and hug my family!! It’s nearly been 2 years now!!”.

And it’s not just flights from the UK to Spain that are being cancelled, several are also being cancelled from Spain to the UK.

One passenger wrote “@easyJet flight cancelled again – I need to get to the UK by July 2nd as I start work 10 days later, enough time to quarantine. You must have a flight out of southern Spain to anywhere in the London area on July 1st or 2nd”. 

Why are so many flights being cancelled?

Many airlines decided to cancel their flights after the UK pushed back its so-called ‘Freedom Day’ – the day when all Covid-19 restrictions were to be lifted – by four weeks. 

But are they being cancelled due to lack of demand or is it simply a reaction to the UK government’s traffic light system and which countries make the green list?

The Local Spain spoke to a representative from TUI who said: “As it currently stands, the travel advice from the FCDO hasn’t changed for Spain and it is still against travel advice to go there, which is separate from the amber list. We’re therefore not sending anyone to Spain until that changes, apart from the Canaries (which FCDO allows). We constantly review our holiday programme and cancellations in line with the government updates every three weeks”. 

Flights are being cancelled between UK and Spain. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Is it just flights to and from small airports in the UK and Spain that are being cancelled?

While there have been numerous reports of flights to Spain from smaller airports such as Doncaster and Glasgow being cancelled, unfortunately, there have also been reports of cancellations to and from larger airports including London, Edinburgh and Madrid too. 

A recent EasyJet flight from Edinburgh to Madrid was cancelled as was another from Glasgow to Malaga.

What can I do about it?

TUI told The Local Spain: “We know some customers may be unsure about travelling this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone due to travel before the end of August”.

On their website, EasyJet states that passengers who had their flights cancelled could either rebook for a different Easyjet flight, accept a voucher or take a refund, while Wizz Air also offers the chance to rebook your flight for free, to get a refund or accept Wizz credits. 

Make sure you book outbound and return flights with the same airline. If your outbound flight with one airline gets cancelled, but the return flight is still scheduled with another airline, then you may not be able to get a refund or free flight change from the second airline. 

One reader got in touch to say that they couldn’t get out to Spain because Jet2 had cancelled their outgoing flight, but that Ryanair wouldn’t let them get a refund or a voucher for the return flight that they wouldn’t be able to use. 

One option to avoid cancelled flights could be to fly in and out of Gibraltar and then to travel into Spain. Because Gibraltar is currently on the UK’s green list, it has dramatically increased in popularity. EasyJet, Wizz Air, British Airways and Eastern Airways have all reportedly put on extra flights to Gibraltar to meet the demand. 

According to the Visit Gibraltar website Spain is on Gibraltar’s green list, so you are able to enter from mainland Spain providing you present a negative Covid-19 Lateral Flow Test upon arrival.

According to the UK government website, if you’ve been to mainland Spain within 10 days, flying in and out of Gibraltar still means that you will need to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the UK and take Covid-19 tests on day two and day eight.

When can I safely book flights between Spain and UK again?

Reports indicate that airlines that have been cancelling their flights will continue to do so up until at least mid-July, so booking a flight between now and then could still be risky.

However, the next UK government review of its traffic light system is expected to be on June 24th, so if Spain is added to the green list, the situation could change very quickly.

Toni Mayor, head of the Hosbec association of Valencia region hoteliers told The Telegraph that he did not expect to see the bulk of UK tourism to Spain take off until August, which could mean there might still be flight cancellations up until then.

READ ALSO: LATEST: What are the rules for travelling to Spain from all countries?

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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