EU plans to get travel going again
THis week the EU set out ways to get transport and travel moving again in a safe way. The Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to help the Member States gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen, while respecting necessary health precautions.
The Commission’s guidance aims that as soon as the health situation allows, people should be able to catch up with friends and family, in their own EU country or across borders, with all the safety and precautionary measures needed in place. The package also aims to help the EU tourism sector recover from the pandemic, by supporting businesses and ensuring that Europe continues to be the number one destination for visitors.
I already covered the suggestion that airlines should make vouchers more attractive as they must still offer a refund if a customer requests it.
The document also covered introducing a common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way. I fully support this as all the countries seem to be making statements themselves without any coordination.
From today there will be random checks at border crossings and then on 15 June free movement could resume. Countries will still open their borders as they decide fit, so it does not mean we can all rush off on holiday. The guidance states that countries should consider that the other countries have a similar rate of infection, facilities to treat visitors and appropriate measure such as social distancing in place.
The document also sets out the guidelines for hotels, airlines etc on safely reopening. These guidelines include a series of recommendations, such as the need to limit contact between passengers and transport workers, and passengers themselves, reducing, where feasible, the density of passengers.
The guidelines also include indications on the use of personal protective equipment such as face masks and on adequate protocols in case passengers present coronavirus symptoms.
Algarve to reopen
The Algarve in Portugal has said it is planning to open for tourists this summer including and international visitors once travel restrictions are lifted.
The Algarve is one of the least affected regions in Portugal with only 360 Covid-19 cases since January. I’m really wishing I lived there now!
More flights to Australia and ease restrictions for transfers
Again, not a lot of use unless you have residency in Australia and fancy two weeks quarantine, but both Qatar and Etihad have introduced more flights to Australia. Australia are also due to ease restrictions on those who merely wish to transit Australia without entering the country.
Qatar Airways announced it will be resuming services to Brisbane, with three-weekly flights starting from 20 May. The flights will be operated by an Airbus A350-1000 offering 46 seats in Business Class.
From 15 May 2020, Etihad will start operating weekly scheduled services between London and Melbourne. All flights will operate Economy & Business cabins.
There are a few restrictions:
- The same aircraft will operate both sectors to and via Abu Dhabi
- Guests in transit will remain on board when we reach Abu Dhabi, as will their checked baggage
- Guests will be able to leave the aircraft as usual if their journey terminates in Abu Dhabi
- Guests joining the flight in Abu Dhabi will board normally from Abu Dhabi
- All Etihad London operations will depart and arrive from London Heathrow, Terminal 2
KLM finally agrees on refunds
KLM has been one of the worst offenders in refusing to give refunds. They did not even attempt to hide the fact that they were point blank refusing them and forcing customer s to take a voucher. After the EU confirmed yesterday that airline must refund or they would take action it has updated its voucher policy, they will now offer a choice of either of a voucher or cash refund if flights are cancelled.
KLM issued a statement saying:
“The circumstances in the airline industry have now stabilised somewhat. In response to this trend and the latest recommendations of the EU Commission, the Netherlands Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, has decided to withdraw her earlier instructions to the Netherlands Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, which were to remain in force until 1 July.
“KLM will therefore adjust its policy accordingly for passengers whose flight may be cancelled in the coming period. These customers will be offered the choice of a voucher or a cash refund.”
They have said refunds may take a while and that they are actively looking at adding an incentive for taking a voucher. It amazes me that some airlines have not tried this. Surely 10% is a small amount to retain a customers money?
If you are missing travel I rather liked this Barcelo video. Make sure you have the sound on.