Ryanair passengers flying from London to Lisbon were packed on a plane on Saturday despite orders from Governments across the world to keep to strict social distancing measures in the fight against coronavirus. Footage of the flight shared by one of the passengers on Twitter showed the plane at full capacity with most people wearing face masks but in an impossible position to keep metres apart from one another.
On Tuesday, the airline announced that it will be restarting flights as early as July, despite Boris Johnson’s new 14-day quarantine rules.
Ryanair revealed in an announcement today that they plan to return to 40 percent of their normal flight schedules from July 1 2020.
It is understood that the plans will be subject to Government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted, and effective public health measures being put in place at airports.
The European Union on Wednesday pushed to reopen internal borders and restart travel, although the prospects of reviving tourism ahead of the summer season were mixed as public fears over health and safety weigh heavily during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the tourism sector, which usually accounts for about a tenth of the bloc’s economy, now decimated by the pandemic, the EU’s executive Commission urged a return to “unrestricted free movement”, albeit with safety measures such as face masks on aeroplanes.
“Our thoughts are now turning toward summer and to the places that we love to travel,” said Margrethe Vestager, a Commission deputy. “That means taking gradual, careful steps to help travel restart in line with what science tells us.”
Tourism industry groups praised the recommendations as a first step to help save their businesses, but the Commission’s proposals are non-binding on the 27 EU members.
Furthermore, it recommended Europe’s external borders remain closed for most travel at least until mid-June.
Europe’s museums, beaches and plazas have been virtually empty since mid-March under a near-blanket travel halt that has destroyed jobs, pulverised the airline and hospitality sectors and undermined Europe’s cherished principle of free movement in a bid to contain the virus.
Under the Commission’s proposals, airlines and airports would insist passengers wear masks, and reorganise check-ins, dropoffs and luggage pickups to avoid crowds. They would not require that middle seats be left empty on planes, a measure some airlines say would make profitable flying impossible.
The Brussels-based Commission also wants vouchers for cancelled flights or holidays to be valid for at least a year, with protection against bankruptcies, so people would accept them instead of demanding refunds from cash-strapped airlines and travel firms.
It said people should be able to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants or go to beaches – though it stressed the situation would have to be monitored to prevent a new surge in infections.
“This looks like good news,” said Toni Mayor, president of a hotels’ association in Spain’s Valencia region which includes the major package holiday destination Benidorm. “If this combines with less pressure from the virus, as it seems, … we might just be able to half-save the summer season.”
European governments are pressing ahead with their own plans to reopen at different speeds, depending on national circumstances, and some are promoting domestic tourism.
Published at Thu, 14 May 2020 09:30:00 +0000