While measures for easing lockdown restrictions are starting to be enforced across the UK, the prospect of travelling abroad this summer is still unclear.
Countries around the world have now started to ease restrictions, including Spain and Italy, prompting airlines to begin planning for the eventual lifting of lockdown, giving an indication as to when flight schedules may start again.
When will flights resume?
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against all but essential international travel indefinitely, which is impacting millions of holiday plans.
While countries will make their own decision regarding domestic travel, EU regulations allowing free movement of people between borders will depend on the growth rate of coronavirus cases around the world.
The gradual lifting of borders in Europe has now been proposed by the EU’s executive in an effort to restart the tourist industry, with economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni stating that the EU “will have a tourist season this summer, even it if’s with security measures and limitations”.
Some EU countries are starting to reopen their borders, with Austria and Germany the latest to agree to remove travel restrictions.
From Friday (15 May) there will be random checks at border crossings, but free movement should resume from 15 June.
UK travellers have already been warned international holidays may not be possible this summer, with plans for a 14-day quarantine on air arrivals, but travel without quarantine will be possible to France.
The European Commission said its guidance involves countries working together to gradually remove travel bans, while keeping the virus under control, and eventually opening all of the EU’s internal borders.
However, this will be done slowly in phases, with destinations required to have coronavirus testing and tracing measures in place, along with tight controls on transport, accommodation and leisure activities.
What dates do airlines expect flights to resume?
While flights throughout April and May have been cancelled, with the exception of repatriation flights, some airlines have said they are expecting to resume their flight schedules ahead of the peak July and August season.
Here are the dates some of the major airlines expect to start running flights again:
Jet2 and Jet2holidays initally planned to restart holidays and flights on 1 July, but have since postponed the date.
The travel conpany released a statement this week to say it had taken the decision to instead recommence operations on 15 July.
All bookings scheduled to depart before this date will now be cancelled.
In a statement, Jet2 said: "In view of the ongoing travel restrictions that are in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to recommence our flights and holidays programme on July 15.
"Customers who were due to travel before July 15 do not need to contact us. We are continuing to proactively contact customers to discuss their options, one of which is rebooking their holiday to a later date.
"For customers with a booking that is due to depart on or after July 15, the booking is subject to our normal terms and conditions.”
Ryanair has announced it plans to restore 40 per cent of its flights from 1 July, subject to travel restrictions being lifted with the EU and airports putting safety measures in place.
Almost 1,000 flights per day will be in operation, with the airline bringing back nearly all of its pre-coronavirus route network.
New flight rules will include both passengers and crew wearing face coverings in the terminal and on planes, and all on-board transactions being cashless.
Queues for the toilet will also be banned duing flights and passengers will have to request access from crew members.
Check in will be done online, with passengers asked to download their boarding pass and to bring fewer bags, and temperature checks will be done on arrival at the airport.
Ryanair said it uses air filters in its planes, similar to those used in critical hospital wards, and that all interior surfaces in planes are disinfected every night.
The airline has said it hopes to resume 29 long-haul routes from July, although a confirmed date for the restarting of flights has not yet been announced.
British Airways said its flight schedules are being constantly monitored and recommends customers check for their latest news on their flight on its website.
EasyJet will resume some flights on 15 June, with all passengers and cabin crew told to wear face masks on board.
The airline will restart domestic routes in the UK and France initially, along with flights from four destinations in Europe where there is sufficient customer demand. Further routes will then be added in the following weeks as lockdown measures continue to ease across Europe.
From mid-June, easyJet will fly out of Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Belfast, as well as from locations in Europe.
These include Paris Charles de Gaulle, Nice and Lyon, Geneva in Switzerland, Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain.
One confirmed international route will be Gatwick to Nice on the French Riviera.
Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to resume some operations from 20 and 21 July, with services from London Heathrow to five international airports.
Beginning on 20 July, the airline will fly to Orlando and Hong Kong, while from 21 July, it will fly to Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles.
Customers are able to amend their booking up until 30 June, suggesting flights are likely to remain on hold until then.
Those who have already planned their holiday can rebook free of charge, change their destination or travel date, or hold their ticket up until 31 May 2022.
Any customers who make a booking before 30 June 2020, for travel before 30 December 2020, will be able to move their booking to any date before 31 May 2022 and the date change fee will be waived.
The airline has also announced its flight programme for summer 2021 as it looks ahead to restarting operations, with customers able to book from 16 May.
Virgin Atlantic said it is expecting to “steadily increase” passenger flights in the second half of this year, with a gradual recovery through 2021.
TUI has cancelled all foreign holidays for British tourists until 1 July. All operations to Spain and Greece before 30 June have also been cancelled, while lakes and mountains holidays have been cancelled until at least 1 October.
If your holiday falls into one of the following categories, it has now been cancelled:
- TUI holidays travelling on or before 10 July 2020, including flight-only bookings
- TUI River Cruises sailings travelling up until and including 25 November 2020
- TUI Lakes and Mountain holidays travelling up until and including 30 September 2020
- Marella Cruises sailings on or before 30 July 2020 and all sailings detailed below:
- All sailings on Marella Celebration
- Sailings on Marella Discovery 2 from Naples, Asia and the Middle East up to 30 April 2021
- Sailings on Marella Dream from Palma up to 4 May 2021
- Marella Discovery sailings from Jamaica in December 2020 and January 2021
- Marella Explorer 2 sailings from Naples between 5 May 2021 to 20 October 2021
All other holidays are continuing to operate as planned and will be continuously reviewed.
Wizz Air resumed some flights out of Luton Airport on 1 May to selected airports in Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain and Israel, although this was mainly to transport workers to the UK.
The flights operated with “enhanced” health and safety measures, with cabin crew required to wear masks and gloves on all flights and sanitising wipes will be distributed to passengers, the airline confirmed in a statement.
Social distancing measures will also be introduced during boarding and the aircraft will be disinfected overnight.
The carrier has also announced plans to offer seveal summer routes, with flights set to resume on 16 June to Portgual and in July to Greece.
Wizz Air initially plans to operate ten per cent of scheduled flights for passengers who have essential journeys.