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Key questions answered on impact of pandemic on holidays

When will flights resume, what are the risks, and how will holidays change?

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Holidaymakers have seen their plans hit by the coronavirus pandemic (Victoria Jones/PA)

Holidaymakers have seen their plans hit by the coronavirus pandemic (Victoria Jones/PA)

Holidaymakers have seen their plans hit by the coronavirus pandemic (Victoria Jones/PA)

Millions of holidaymakers have seen their plans for a break this year thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here the PA news agency looks at 10 key questions on the impact of the virus on travel.

– Will I be able to fly abroad for a break this summer?

The resumption of foreign holidays depends on travel restrictions being lifted and airlines ramping up services.

– What is the Government’s position?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all but essential international travel since March 17.

Tour operators will not send customers abroad until that position changes.

– What are airlines doing?

Airlines have grounded the majority of their aircraft, but many have ambitions to ramp up services in the summer.

British Airways’ parent company, IAG, said it is planning a “meaningful return to service” in July, subject to restrictions being eased.

– What about tour operators?

Britain’s biggest holiday company, Tui, is planning to resume trips on June 12, while Jet2holidays is due to restart its programmes on June 17.

– Where will I be able to go?

Countries with low infection rates are likely to be the first to attract tourists.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs on Monday that “air bridges” could be created between the UK and those nations as a way of avoiding the UK’s incoming 14-day quarantine programme for people arriving from abroad.

Wizz Air has announced the launch of six new routes serving Luton Airport from next month, including Faro in Portugal and four Greek islands.

– What are the risks involved?

There are fears that airports and planes present an increased risk of being infected with coronavirus.

New hygiene measures are being implemented by the aviation industry, such as enhanced cleaning regimes and urging passengers to wear face masks or coverings.

– How will holidays change?

Tui has announced a series of steps to boost safety in hotels, including buffets being served onto plates rather than self-service, nightclubs remaining closed and activities such as team sports being replaced by those with only a handful of participants.

In Portugal, tourism officials are awarding a “Clean&Safe” seal to firms such as hotels and restaurants which meet new hygiene standards.

– How are staycations affected?

The UK’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic but demand is set to increase rapidly once lockdown restrictions are eased.

Many holidaymakers are expected to choose a staycation rather than a foreign trip to avoid the chance of being infected while flying.

– I booked a holiday but it was cancelled. What are my rights?

UK consumers are protected under European laws which state that they should receive full cash refunds within seven days for cancelled flights and 14 days for package holidays that do not take place.

But many people have reported being unable to obtain payouts from airlines and holiday firms within those time periods.

– Should I accept a voucher?

Most travel firms are offering customers with existing bookings a voucher or credit note to be used towards the cost of a future booking, as an alternative to a cash refund.

While accepting these can help companies avoid going bust, there is concern that holidaymakers will lose out if prices are increased.

PA