Britons back 'air bridges' with searches to Italy and France rocketing

Britons back ‘air bridges’ and tourism in Europe ‘re-opening this summer’, with searches for July holidays to Italy and France rocketing in the past few days by over 100 per cent

  • Air bridges would allow people to travel without the need to undergo quarantine
  • In response, Skyscanner says searches for holidays to Italy in July are up 103% 
  • The website has also seen a 128% increase in searches for July trips to France  

British travellers are backing the idea of travel ‘corridors’ and ‘bubbles’, with searches for holidays to Italy and France rocketing this week.

Ministers are mulling coronavirus ‘air bridges’ to allow travellers to move between countries without the need for quarantine once the outbreak is under control. And Italy, Spain and Greece have all made headlines with announcements around the re-introduction of tourism.

Skyscanner has revealed that in response, searches from the UK for holidays in July in Italy are up 103 per cent this week compared to last week and for trips to France by 128 per cent. Overall searches for international travel in July have increased by 37 per cent in the past two weeks.

British travellers are backing the idea of travel ‘corridors’ and ‘bubbles’, with searches for holidays to Italy and France rocketing this week 

Jon Thorne, director of user satisfaction at Skyscanner, said: ‘As they look ahead to the summer, nations around the world are discussing new travel alliances. These “travel bubbles”, also called “travel corridors”, aim to allow passage between two or more countries without the need to quarantine.

‘There has been much made in the news about which countries the UK might partner with in the future and at what time. As certain countries have been named, we have seen a correlation with an increase in search data to those locations, intimating that keen UK travellers will adapt their planned destination according to government regulations.

‘Safety, is of course, paramount in many people’s minds. Many travellers are taking advantage of the airlines and hotels who are offering their most flexible cancellation policies ever and booking international travel for later this year and early next.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said a ‘blanket’ 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals in the UK would be introduced from next month.

Searches for international travel overall in July has increased by 37 per cent in the past two weeks, says Skyscanner 

WHAT IS AN AIR BRIDGE? 

An ‘air bridge’ is typically used by the military to reach and supply territory across enemy lines.

One of the largest in history was used for the Berlin airlift after the Second World War.

That kept the Western-held area supplied between June 1948 and May 1949 when it was cut off by Soviet forces. 

Another famous air bridge was ‘The Hump’, which was the route over the Himalayas from India to resupply Chinese forces working with the Allies. 

But he disclosed that there are ‘active discussions’ going on over what countries could be exempted from the regime in future, referring to the idea of ‘air bridges’ – usually used to refer to military flights over enemy territory.

Countries with lower infection levels, such as Australia, New Zealand and Greece, could potentially be excluded from the tough rules, which will be enforced by law.

Meanwhile, Skyscanner has also revealed that more people have been looking for getaways within the UK, encouraged by the easing of restrictions in some areas and the rumour of an extra Bank Holiday, which is being mulled as a way of boosting domestic spending.

For example, searches for car hire in the UK have increased 31 per cent week-on-week, with the travel website saying many people in cities are looking to escape to other parts of the UK after lockdown.

A survey of almost 6,000 Skyscanner users in 17 countries has shown that there is a latent demand in the UK for travel, with interest in domestic trips high.

Of those surveyed, 52 per cent believe that the domestic situation is getting better compared to a 65 per cent average across European countries.

Thirty-five per cent of participants said they believe that it will be safe to travel domestically within three months compared to a 29 per cent average across the European countries surveyed.

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The solar-powered floating Airbnb villa in Sydney's Palm Beach

Water place to stay! The astonishing solar-powered floating Airbnb villa for two moored in Sydney’s exclusive Palm Beach

  • Lilypad Palm Beach lies in Pittwater Bay, a body of water protected by the exclusive Palm Beach peninsula 
  • The luxury floating villa boasts a double bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a private boat for exploring 
  • There is also a wine cellar stocked with Veuve Cliquot Champagne, a private chef and a personal concierge 

Want to splash out on the ultimate post-lockdown romantic getaway? This Airbnb rental moored off the Sydney coast might float your boat.

Welcome aboard Lilypad Palm Beach, which boasts a double bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, a private boat for exploring the coastline, a wine cellar stocked with Veuve Clicquot Champagne and a personal chef. 

It lies in Pittwater Bay, a body of water sheltered by the exclusive Palm Beach peninsula, which is 28 miles from Sydney’s city centre and where many wealthy Australians have swanky holiday homes.

Lilypad Palm Beach is a floating Airbnb rental moored off the Sydney coast in Pittwater Bay, a body of water sheltered by the exclusive Palm Beach peninsula

Even though the villa is just metres from the shore, the owners of Lilypad say it ‘feels a million miles away’

The luxurious bedroom at Lilypad. The villa also boasts a bathroom, a kitchen, a private boat so guests can explore the surrounding beaches and a wine cellar that includes Veuve Clicquot Champagne

Even though the villa is just metres from the shore, the owners of Lilypad say it ‘feels a million miles away’. And those who have tried the villa agree that it’s a tranquil and altogether quite special place to be.

One happy customer wrote on Airbnb: ‘This place is amazing – it’s such a unique yet relaxing experience.’

Another said: ‘Amazing stay and such a unique experience. Food and wine were plentiful and of great quality.’

While a third raved: ‘If you want an amazing, high-end unique stay you cannot go past Lilypad. An amazing location, fantastic accommodation and an all-round great time in a beautiful part of the world.’

A night’s stay in the villa, which is 100 per cent solar-powered, starts from AUS$1,650 (£885/$1,080), with the price including other perks such as a private concierge, onboard breakfast items supplied by nearby restaurant Boat House Palm Beach and use of paddleboards, fishing rods and a floating day bed.

Those booking a two-night stay also receive a complimentary dinner for two at the ‘iconic’ Barrenjoey House, with a private boat transfer (value AUS$350, £187, $230).

A night’s stay in the villa, which is 100 per cent solar-powered, starts from AUS$1,650 (£885/$1,080)

Chuck Anderson, the brainchild behind Lilypad, said: ‘We have built a space that is for true relaxation and enjoyment of the natural beauty where Lilypad exists’

Guests can also purchase additional extras such as seaplane transfers from Rose Bay, luxury chauffeured vehicles and onboard beauty treatments.

Even though Lilypad only sleeps up to two guests, the owners say it can also be used as an ‘event venue to host friends, family or clients’ and can host up to 16 people.

It can also be booked as a day spa venue for up to six guests.

Chuck Anderson, the brainchild behind Lilypad, said: ‘We have built a space that is for true relaxation and enjoyment of the natural beauty where Lilypad exists.


The owners of Lilypad say it can be used as an ‘event venue to host friends, family or clients’ and can host up to 16 people. It can also be booked as a day spa venue for up to six guests

Perks include a private concierge, onboard breakfast items supplied by nearby restaurant Boat House Palm Beach and use of paddleboards, fishing rods and a floating day bed 

‘It is the perfect venue to either reset from the world in ultimate comfort or host friends and colleagues in a way like never before.

‘The design and construction of Lilypad was a feat in engineering to ensure guests could experience luxury accommodation on an entirely stable surface, whilst drifting with the rhythmic sounds and movements of the ocean.

‘Growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and spending much of my life around boats, I always had a vision to create something truly special that people can now enjoy as their own, a design space and service that would eliminate the pitfalls of the traditional boating experience whilst amplifying the rest.’

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Air travel won’t return to pre-coronvirus levels until 2023, airline group predicts



a airplane that is parked on the side of a dirt field

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While Florida beaches and Iceland’s Blue Lagoon may tempt some travelers to get off their couches and fly somewhere this summer, air travelers are not expected to return to the skies in large numbers anytime soon.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the largest global airline organization, does not believe traffic numbers to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels until around 2023, according to its latest forecast. Domestic flyers in markets like China and the U.S. will return first in about two years and international flyers a year or two later by 2024.

We are eager to fly,” IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said during a briefing on Wednesday. But eagerness is not enough, at least not yet, to get those fearful of COVID-19 or who have lost their jobs back on planes.

Get Coronavirus travel updates. Stay on top of industry impacts, flight cancellations, and more.

Some destinations are or plan to be open for at least part of the summer. Beaches are open in parts of Florida and Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines — all of which cater primarily to non-business travelers — are seeing small but noticeable increases in the number of people on flights to the state.

In Europe, the European Union’s economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday that the bloc “will have a summer tourist season.” Any opening, however, will come with clear health and safety guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

What is not yet clear is whether any EU reopening would welcome both Americans and Europeans, or focus on something of a “travel bubble” among member states.

One possibility for summer holidays is the approach proposed by Iceland. The island hopes to reopen for visitors by June 15 with either mandatory COVID-19 tests or 14-day quarantines upon arrival.


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