Furious travellers are demanding a refund on their flights to Spanish islands because airlines only have to reimburse planned trips to the mainland.
Britons called for Ryanair, Jet2, easyJet and BA to return the cost of their future holidays to hotspots such as Ibiza, Majorca and Gran Canaria.
The Foreign Office is currently advising people against all non-essential travel – including journeys to mainland Spain.
But this does not apply to the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, which are normally swarming with Brits this time of year.
It means airlines do not legally have to hand out refunds to those who no longer want to go to the islands.
Yet those returning from any Spanish territory still have to go into a 14-day quarantine when they return.
Ministers are said to be considering giving the Canaries and Balearics an exemption, but this could still be a week away.
Meanwhile there are also reports the FCO could harden travel advice relating to the islands to bring them into line with the ban on travel to the mainland.
Britons called for Ryanair, Jet2, easyJet and BA to return the cost of their future holidays to hotspots such as Ibiza, Majorca and Gran Canaria (file photo)
British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2 have all said travel to and from Spain and its islands will continue – flying in the face of government advice.
BA and easyJet hinted they will hand out vouchers – instead of refunds – for cancelled flights.
Weekly Covid-19 figures for the Balearics and Canaries show cases have remained reasonably low
Weekly Covid-19 case figures for the last four weeks show there have been reasonably low numbers in both the Balearics and Canaries, although more of an upward trend in the latter:
New cases in previous seven days (week up to Friday, July 24):
- Balearic Islands: 40
- Canary Islands: 95
- Spain total: 10,990
Week to Friday, July 17:
- Balearics: 39
- Canaries: 30
- Spain total: 5,695
Week to Friday, July 10:
- Balearics: 17
- Canaries: 13
- Spain total: 2,944
Week to Friday, July 3:
- Balearics: 37
- Canaries: 11
- Spain total: 2,028
All-time cases (as of Friday, July 24)
- Balearics: 2,343
- Canaries: 2,578
- Spain total: 272,421
But Ryanair has said it will not offer any reimbursement and suggested it will charge people £95 if they change their booking.
Holidaymakers were incensed by the move, with some having to choose between their holiday or the sack from work when they get back and have to isolate.
Daisy Thomas tweeted: ‘@jet2tweets booked to fly to Ibiza on 21/08, received this email only days ago with your ”worry free guarantee”.
‘Funny how that has disappeared off your website in line with new FCO guidance! We cannot quarantine on return… not so worry free. Do the right thing and refund!’
Cara Lovell-Young from London posted: ‘@Ryanair your customer service is outrageous.
‘I need to change flights from Ibiza at the end of August & I have to pay a ridiculous change fee.
‘You’re also not offering refunds unless the flight is cancelled by you. I’m changing the flights out of necessity & not convenience.’
Jake Brough put: ‘@jet2tweets I won’t be able to quarantine after my holiday to Ibiza on the 10th August, can we get a refund?? #jet2holidays.’
Andrew Dourka-Laird added: ‘@Ryanair Hello we have flight FR9251 booked for Ibiza.
‘Can we get a refund due to the advise given by the EU / UK on corona virus? Easy Jet are offering refunds to their customers in similar positions.’
Ex-West End performer Julie McKenna wrote: ‘Travelling to Majorca today, knowing we have to quarantine when we return.
‘Can’t get a refund, booked independently. Hotel insisting no refund. We paid a lot of money for our holiday, which we would lose if we just didn’t go.
‘We booked in January. Gutted. #majorca #quarantine.’
And Craig Cowgill, from Bury, who is due to fly to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands on Thursday, said he was still hoping Jet2 would refund him.
The small business manager said: ‘I don’t know what to do at this moment. I’m hoping Jet2 will offer a refund or the Government change the quarantine from the islands.
‘I can understand about Spain, but they say it’s safe where we are going, so why quarantine us then? It’s either one or the other – [you] can’t send people, then ask them to quarantine and not offer refunds.’
EasyJet and Jet2 have not cancelled any flights today while BA and Ryanair both grounded two but none of them were bound for Spain or its islands.
Ryanair slashes its traffic outlook over fears of a Covid-19 second wave
Ryanair cut its annual passenger target by a quarter on Monday and warned a second wave of Covid-19 infections could lower that further, sending its shares down 6 per cent despite reporting a smaller than expected loss during its April-June lockdown.
Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said Ryanair had seen a hit to bookings in recent days in the wake of a surge of infections in Barcelona and expects ‘more of those kind of developments’.
The British government abruptly imposed on Saturday a two-week quarantine on all travellers arriving from Spain due to the surge, a move O’Leary described as ‘a badly managed over-reaction’.
Ryanair posted an after-tax loss of 185 million euros ($216.5 million) for the three months to June 30, when it cut 99% of its capacity as Europe locked down in the face of Covid-19.
That was its first-ever loss in the quarter, but less than the 232 million euros forecast in a company poll of analysts. It rolled back expectations for the rest of its financial year ending on March 31, saying it will fly 60 million passengers rather than the 80 million it forecast in May – and down from 149 million last year.
‘Our full-year guidance of 60 million passengers is tentative at this point in time and it could go lower,’ O’Leary said in a video presentation. ‘A second wave of COVID-19 cases across Europe in late autumn … is our biggest fear right now.’
The fall was due to cuts in the airline’s schedule between October and March, when it will run around 70% of last year’s schedule rather than the 80% flagged.
July and August had been boosted by bookings made before the COVID-19 crisis and O’Leary said he would be ‘much more wary and cautious’ about September and October.
‘I wouldn’t rule out that we will be taking out more capacity if we think bookings will remain weak in order to preserve cash,’ he said.
The uncertainty means Ryanair cannot give a profit guidance for its financial year, though it expects to lose less in the current quarter than the last one, he added.
O’Leary said Ryanair may close bases in Spain and Italy where pilots are resisting temporary pay cuts.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said his firm had no plans to reduce capacity to Spain despite the government advice.
He branded the new rules- introduced at short notice on Saturday – a ‘badly managed over-reaction’.
He made the comments on a call with investors where he said the government ‘panicked’ instead of focusing on stopping travel to specific regions with high cases.
He added: ‘There is no scientific basis for a national restriction.’
Asked if Ryanair would reduce capacity between the two countries, Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said: ‘We have no plans to cut capacity in the medium term.’
A spokesman for BA said: ‘While our flights continue to operate, we are disappointed that the Government is now advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain and re-introducing quarantine for holidaymakers returning from Spain with immediate effect, throwing thousands of Britons’ travel plans into chaos.
‘This is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry.
‘We will be providing our customers with the latest information about their flights on ba.com.’
And easyJet added: ‘We are disappointed that the Government has decided to impose a quarantine requirement for those travelling from the whole of Spain since the increased occurrence of coronavirus is regional rather than nationwide.
‘We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days. Customers who no longer wish to travel can transfer their flights without a change fee or receive a voucher for the value of the booking.’
But nervy prospective passengers continued to tweet their frustration over refunds.
Martin McGlown posted: ‘I booked to go to Majorca on the basis that they had a pledge in place saying that they wouldn’t go ahead with holidays to places where you had to quarantine on return. Surely they have to stick to that and offer refunds now?’
Gemma Fletcher put: ‘How do we contact regarding refunds for cancelled holidays?have rang numerous times and emailed however no reply!!!’
Jason Golder wrote: ‘Gutted for you all, very lucky I got a full refund from @jet2tweets in April for our easter holiday in Tenerife.’
He added: ‘Even happier I didn’t bother to rebook for August with everything going on.’
Another said: ‘What about us poor sods who’s holidays were booked last year. Having twice rebooked with @easyJet when they cancelled our flights.
‘Now the flights are live but advice is don’t travel. Should not be advice but an instruction. Could have refund twice now no options.’
And one man added: ‘@jet2tweets so, I’ve requested a refund and would like to book another holiday with you, but can’t get through, and have no confirmation that refund will be processed. Please respond to my tweets, dm, phone calls anything.’
The Spanish government and Britain’s travel industry trade body, the Association of British Travel Agents, argue it is not necessary for the Canaries and Balearics to be included in the quarantine, pointing out infection rates on these islands are low.
Abta has told the Government to ‘consider’ changing the rules, while Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya is trying to convince Britain to exclude the Balearics and Canaries, saying: ‘Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists.’
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry’s main global body, also said the British decision ‘does not accurately reflect the risk of a regional spike in one corner of the country’.
Furious Britons flooding back from Spain today told how they faced economic hardship following the change in the FCO advice.
Holidaymakers who miss out on work due to having to quarantine may be eligible for Universal Credit or employment support allowance but not statutory sick pay.
But employers have no obligation to pay staff while they are isolating, self-employed workers will be forced to give up jobs and some people could even face the sack.
The Government also warned ‘no travel is risk-free’ and said sacked workers could appeal to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
There are added fears more European holidays could be thrown into disarray amid mass uncertainty this summer.
The Spain decision is said to have spooked UK holidaymakers who had booked trips in France, Italy and Greece.