Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has sent a “welcome back” message to Britons who had been stranded abroad during the pandemic.
His message came after more than 100 travellers, who had been in Ecuador and Bolivia – plus 150 who were in Ghana, touched down in Britain on special charter flights – but more travellers are still struggling to find their way home.
Welcome back to over 100 Brits who landed in the UK this morning on one of our special charter flights from Ecuador and Bolivia. https://t.co/ckCnwsNJI4— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) April 5, 2020
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office told their direct dependants it “is likely to be the last opportunity” to travel from those regions to the UK “for some time”.
The FCO has issued advice “against all but essential international travel” in the face of the growing number of border and movement restrictions being imposed around the world.
Warning that countries “may restrict travel without notice”, the FCO said special Government-chartered flights to the UK will only operate for priority countries where commercial flights are not possible and travellers should not assume these flights will be available in countries where commercial routes are still operating.
Our third repatriation flight from Ghana landed in London last night. Thanks to the partnership between the 🇬🇧and 🇬🇭, we have worked closely together to bring 150 British people safely home to be with their families and loved ones. @NAkufoAddo @walkeriain— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) April 5, 2020
Here is the current guidance for some popular tourist destinations for Britons:
A special flight has been arranged from Nassau on April 7 for British tourists, short-term visitors and their direct dependants to return to the UK.
International flights are now only operating from Toronto Pearson, Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Calgary International Airport and Vancouver International Airport and Britons are being urged to leave now by commercial means to avoid being stranded.
Many airlines have either suspended all international flights or are no longer flying to the UK, while Air Canada is running a reduced schedule to London throughout April.
.@JanThompsonFCO announces details of first charter flights from India. More information on the flights, including cost and baggage allowances, can be found on the booking portal:— UK in India🇬🇧🇮🇳 (@UKinIndia) April 5, 2020
Mumbai: https://t.co/U91YOK0PY2 pic.twitter.com/Nb1Bcr66HI
Three flights have been chartered by the Government to fly back to London on April 8, 10 and 12 from Goa, and on April 9 and 11 from both Mumbai and Delhi.
– Czech Republic
Seats have to be secured in advance with the British Embassy for a limited number of coaches which are periodically running from Prague to London until April 10. International air travel is now limited to Prague Airport, which remains open, but flights are being cancelled. There are currently no direct flights between Prague and the UK, and indirect flights may be cancelled at short notice.
The FCO warns that flights and medical evacuation may soon not be available or become very expensive and urges Britons to leave on the remaining commercial routes which still have some spaces.
– South Africa
With no scheduled commercial flights set to depart from South Africa until at least April 17, the FCO says it is in contact with airlines and local authorities to ensure British nationals can return to the UK and urges returning travellers to contact them – at SouthAfricaBritishNationalReturns@fco.gov.uk – with their personal details. Port entry for UK visitors is banned and neither cruise liners nor smaller leisure vessels are permitted to dock in South African ports.
Commercial flights are still running to the UK from Spain and travellers are warned to return now and “don’t run the risk of getting stranded”.
Commercial flights are available but many airlines have reduced their transatlantic flight schedules by up to 75%. Transatlantic flights are still running from JFK New York, LAX Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Newark and Atlanta.
Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Colombia, Congo, Cuba and Grenada are among the places where there are no commercial options for Britons to get back home.
Austria, Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Hong Kong are among the destinations where there is still a limited chance to book commercial travel back home.
The FCO has extended its advice against travelling overseas for an indefinite period.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, believes it is currently the right option but it could “cause a huge amount of confusion for anyone who has foreign travel booked in the months ahead”.
He prefers “a definitive date, which can be reviewed if needed, so that travellers have some much-needed clarity around refunds, rebooking or claiming on insurance”.
There are now 14 airlines which are part of the Government’s scheme to get Britons home – which has seen 1,450 travellers return on specially-chartered flights since March 30.
These companies include Air Tanker, Blue Islands, British Airways, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Jota Aviation, Loganair, Norwegian, Ryanair, Titan Airways, TUI, Virgin and Wizz.