As Europe slowly makes its way through the coronavirus crisis, airlines have begun operations again, flying to a small number of places in Europe. However, a patchwork of national restrictions across the continent means the airline industry will have to buckle in for the long haul as restrictions and wariness of foreign travel plays on the mind of potential travellers.
A reciprocal agreement between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron allowing no quarantine on travellers from either country was announced in May, but disappeared when the Government announced the new rules around international travel.
France itself has not had any easy time with COVID-19 – while not as bad as the UK, it has suffered nearly 30,000 deaths and has been under a significant lockdown for months.
It has now begun to reopen, now permitting international travel, and Germany, Belgium, Croatia and Switzerland are fully reopening borders with EU countries next week.
Travellers from the UK will be able to visit these four countries without quarantine or restrictions upon arrival, though they still face mandatory quarantine on return to the UK.
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Which airlines are flying to France?
Currently, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, and Iberia are all flying to Paris.
Easyjet is currently only flying to Nice in the south of France.
No airlines are currently operating at full capacity due to the obvious lack of demand.
Other airlines are set to begin flying again in the coming weeks, with Ryanair, Jet2, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways and others looking to resume operations from July.
Airlines have been struggling to find ways to make air travel safer, knowing many will not want to travel if the risk of coronavirus remains significant until a vaccine is found.
They have been working with Governments, in the UK, in Europe and further afield, to lay down common standards for health and safety protocols that will allow passengers to go on holidays by plane as early as this summer.
Health and safety measures being included across airlines and airports include of passengers blocking out middle seats on planes, reducing the overall number of passengers allowed, extensive cleaning regimes and using electrostatic spraying – or ‘fogging’ – to kill all germs and viruses in the aircraft at the end of the day.
Most airlines, such as British Airways and Emirates, have already stated that face masks will be compulsory for passengers.
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The UK currently has a 14-day quarantine in place for all incoming travellers via any means.
This follows similar restrictions across much of Europe, with many either requiring a quarantine period or on the spot coronavirus test.
This rule does not apply to travellers flying into mainland Britain from Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.
Despite all this, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office still has an international travel advisory out, saying no one should be travelling unless it is absolutely essential.
The FCO says this advice is under constant review, but the decision to apply the current advice indefinitely, rather than for a set period of time, has a significant impact on holiday plans.
In one statement from the Prime Minister in late May, he revived hopes overseas summer holidays could still happen this side of January, after suggesting the UK could have ‘air bridge’ agreements in place by the end of June.
Air bridges would allow British holidaymakers to travel to certain countries without the need to quarantine on arrival, or when they return home.
However, this has not been confirmed by the Government and is still under negotiation with partner countries.
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