Islanders and their families stranded abroad because of coronavirus will be able to get back to the UK following an arrangement struck between the Government and the airlines industry.
The global travel situation caused by coronavirus has led to many people becoming stranded overseas. This is an unprecedented challenge with many countries closing borders and imposing travel restrictions with little warning. This has left many Islanders struggling to get home.
Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan Airways have today (Monday) signed a memorandum of understanding negotiated by the Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary. British Airways have also made clear that they will work with the Government in the national interest to get people home, and other airlines are expected to join.
The Secretaries of State have published a joint letter to the airlines. The Government is focused on getting Brits home through a twin-track approach:
- Airlines recognising their responsibility for transporting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home, through offering them alternatives where routes are cancelled, allowing them to change tickets, where permissible – including between carriers – and offering them the latest information and advice as the situation changes;
- Where commercial routes do not exist, the Government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights – operated by the airlines above and others – to fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents.
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said:
“This is a worrying time for many British citizens travelling abroad. We’ve already worked with airlines and governments to enable hundreds of thousands to return home on commercial flights, and we will keep as many of those options open as possible.
“Where commercial flights are not possible, we will build on the earlier charter flights we organised back from China, Japan, Cuba, Ghana and Peru. The arrangements agreed today will provide a clearer basis to organise special charter flights where Britons find themselves stranded. Our priority will always be the most vulnerable”.
British tourists stranded abroad who want to return to the UK should first check if there are commercial routes available by visiting the airline websites, FCO Travel Advice pages for the country they are in and local British Embassy social media.
If there are no commercial options, they should visit the Travel Advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow Embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the Embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through our booking agents CTM.
The Government continues to urge countries around the world to keep transit hubs, airports and airspace open to ensure travellers are able to return to the UK. The Foreign Secretary has spoken to over 20 of his counterparts to support this effort and we have helped hundreds of thousands of British tourists return from all over the globe including 8,500 from Morocco, around 5,000 from Cyprus, and an estimated 150,000 from Spain.