Super-rich lockdown flouters hold the key to Britain’s back door: How private jets are flying hundreds of passengers from coronavirus hotspots into UK due to ‘lax border controls’
- A staggering 545 private planes entered UK since lockdown began on March 23
- Among them were 25 from Spain and 15 from US – world’s worst-affected nation
- It is thought wealthy visitors are not being transparent about why they are flying
- Some claim they are going to family homes, opposed to second or holiday home
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Super-rich tourists have been using private jets to fly to Britain from coronavirus-ravaged countries.
A staggering 545 chartered planes entered the UK since lockdown began on March 23, helped by the country’s open border policy.
Among them were 25 aircraft from Covid-stricken Spain, 15 from the US – the world’s worst-affected nation – 27 came from France and 32 from Germany.
A staggering 545 chartered planes entered the UK since lockdown began on March 23, helped by the country’s open border policy (file photo)
Stansted Airport runway is being resurfaced during lockdown as passenger numbers plummet
It comes after a private jet full of super-rich holidaymakers from London was sent packing from France last week when they tried to get to their Cannes villa by helicopter.
On another frantic day with tensions rising in the coronavirus battle:
- The government was accused by Labour of ‘treating the public like children’ by refusing to spell out how the exit strategy from lockdown might look, with leader Keir Starmer demanding a ‘road map’ out of the crisis;
- Michael Gove has defended Boris Johnson for skipping five Cobra crisis meetings in the weeks leading up to Britain’s outbreak – but admitted the UK did send a shipment of desperately-needed personal protective gear to China. He stressed the Asian superpower had since sent back far more than it received;
- OECD chief Angel Gurria warned there will have to be ‘stop-go’ arrangements in place for ‘social distancing’ for a long time to come, urging governments to ‘err on the side of caution’ to avoid the worst possible outcomes for economies;
- The Irish health minister has suggested pubs might not be able to open until there is a coronavirus vaccine, which some believe will take more than a year;
- Infectious diseases expert Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s own SAGE advisory group, has cautioned that the lockdown ‘cannot go on much longer’ as it is ‘damaging all our lives’ and could start to be eased within three or four weeks;
- A consignment of PPE, including desperately-needed gowns, that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick boasted would arrive today from Turkey is reported to have been delayed;
- The chairman of the British Medical Association council said it had warned the government ‘weeks ago’ about the risk of personal protective equipment shortages but hit a ‘brick wall’;
- One of the scientists leading efforts to make the breakthrough warned it is not ‘completely certain’ that a coronavirus vaccine can be produced, with Mr Gove admitting no-one should see it as a ‘dead cert’;
More than 15,000 people are entering the UK daily and are being allowed to leave airports without being tested for the bug which has killed more than 160,000 people globally.
It is understood wealthy visitors are not being transparent about why they are flying so they can bypass the Government’s ‘essential travel’ only rule.
Some are reportedly saying they are going to their family home in the UK as opposed to a second or holiday home.
Britain is one of few countries to keep their borders open during the pandemic, while 130 others have brought in tighter controls.
President of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine Professor Gabriel Scally told the Times it was ‘hard to understand’ why the UK is following this policy.
More than 15,000 people are entering the UK (pictured, Heathrow last week) daily and are being allowed to leave airports without being tested for the bug which has killed more than 160,000 people globally
Chief executive of the Air Charter Service Justin Bowman said ‘there are still thousands of people’ stranded abroad and he hoped ‘many of these flights will be legitimate repatriations’.
He added: ‘I would hope those abusing the rules are in the minority.’
Wealthy flyers have also been jetting out of the UK on private planes to far-flung destinations such as the UAE.
An astonishing 767 aircraft have been allowed to take off from Britain, with 115 using the ‘discreet’ London Farnborough airport in Hampshire.
Thirty-four planes flew to France, 34 went to Germany, 30 to Spain and 23 to Russia, where private jet tickets can cost up to £70,000.
Britain (pictured, PM Boris Johnson) is one of few countries to keep their borders open during the pandemic, while 130 others have brought in tighter controls
A further ten went to the UAE, which can cost up to £100,000.
The Civil Aviation Authority said had ‘no way of knowing if the hire of private aircraft has increased or declined in recent weeks’.
Earlier this month seven men in their 40s and 50s and three women in their 20s arrived at Marseille-Provence airport and were intercepted by local police.
The organiser of the trip on April 4 – a Croatian working in banking in the UK – had booked the jet and helicopters to take everybody to the rented villa.
The private jet used by the groups was an Embraer Legacy 600 – a Brazil made luxury business jet, which costs around £5million.
Pictured: Flight tracker shows the route taken by the wealthy businessmen from Farnborough Airport near London to Marseille on April 4