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Why are so many flights between Spain and UK getting cancelled?

Because of ongoing restrictions in the UK, dozens of flights have been cancelled between the UK and Spain this summer, until at least mid-July, causing even more frustration for those trying to visit family, get back to holiday homes, or simply take a vacation.

Why are so many flights between Spain and UK getting cancelled?
Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

TUI has put many of its routes to Spain on hold until the middle of July, while EasyJet has also cancelled hundreds of its flights to amber-list countries that were scheduled for June and July. Jet2 also cancelled all international flights and holidays up to July 1st.

While most of the reports have been about budget airlines cancelling flights, there have also been some cancellations by major carriers such as British Airways.

Despite Spain being open to travellers from the UK since May 24th without the need for quarantine or a negative Covid-19 test, it still seems difficult to get a flight.

READ ALSO: CONFIRMED: Spain to welcome British tourists without PCRs or quarantine from Monday May 24th

Several disgruntled passengers have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration at more cancelled flights.

One wrote “@easyJet I have just learned my flight to Spain on July 7th is cancelled (I did not receive a notification email). I had to choose a different flight which will mess up with everything I had planned”.

Another tweeted: “@easyJet just cancelled our flights to Spain on July 5th, AGAIN!” while someone else got in touch to say their flight to Spain had been cancelled four times this year already.

But it’s not just Brits trying to get out here on holiday, one person trying to get home tweeted: “Crying because my flight home to Spain got cancelled!! All I want to do is go home and hug my family!! It’s nearly been 2 years now!!”.

And it’s not just flights from the UK to Spain that are being cancelled, several are also being cancelled from Spain to the UK.

One passenger wrote “@easyJet flight cancelled again – I need to get to the UK by July 2nd as I start work 10 days later, enough time to quarantine. You must have a flight out of southern Spain to anywhere in the London area on July 1st or 2nd”. 

Why are so many flights being cancelled?

Many airlines decided to cancel their flights after the UK pushed back its so-called ‘Freedom Day’ – the day when all Covid-19 restrictions were to be lifted – by four weeks. 

But are they being cancelled due to lack of demand or is it simply a reaction to the UK government’s traffic light system and which countries make the green list?

The Local Spain spoke to a representative from TUI who said: “As it currently stands, the travel advice from the FCDO hasn’t changed for Spain and it is still against travel advice to go there, which is separate from the amber list. We’re therefore not sending anyone to Spain until that changes, apart from the Canaries (which FCDO allows). We constantly review our holiday programme and cancellations in line with the government updates every three weeks”. 

Flights are being cancelled between UK and Spain. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Is it just flights to and from small airports in the UK and Spain that are being cancelled?

While there have been numerous reports of flights to Spain from smaller airports such as Doncaster and Glasgow being cancelled, unfortunately, there have also been reports of cancellations to and from larger airports including London, Edinburgh and Madrid too. 

A recent EasyJet flight from Edinburgh to Madrid was cancelled as was another from Glasgow to Malaga.

What can I do about it?

TUI told The Local Spain: “We know some customers may be unsure about travelling this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone due to travel before the end of August”.

On their website, EasyJet states that passengers who had their flights cancelled could either rebook for a different Easyjet flight, accept a voucher or take a refund, while Wizz Air also offers the chance to rebook your flight for free, to get a refund or accept Wizz credits. 

Make sure you book outbound and return flights with the same airline. If your outbound flight with one airline gets cancelled, but the return flight is still scheduled with another airline, then you may not be able to get a refund or free flight change from the second airline. 

One reader got in touch to say that they couldn’t get out to Spain because Jet2 had cancelled their outgoing flight, but that Ryanair wouldn’t let them get a refund or a voucher for the return flight that they wouldn’t be able to use. 

One option to avoid cancelled flights could be to fly in and out of Gibraltar and then to travel into Spain. Because Gibraltar is currently on the UK’s green list, it has dramatically increased in popularity. EasyJet, Wizz Air, British Airways and Eastern Airways have all reportedly put on extra flights to Gibraltar to meet the demand. 

According to the Visit Gibraltar website Spain is on Gibraltar’s green list, so you are able to enter from mainland Spain providing you present a negative Covid-19 Lateral Flow Test upon arrival.

According to the UK government website, if you’ve been to mainland Spain within 10 days, flying in and out of Gibraltar still means that you will need to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the UK and take Covid-19 tests on day two and day eight.

When can I safely book flights between Spain and UK again?

Reports indicate that airlines that have been cancelling their flights will continue to do so up until at least mid-July, so booking a flight between now and then could still be risky.

However, the next UK government review of its traffic light system is expected to be on June 24th, so if Spain is added to the green list, the situation could change very quickly.

Toni Mayor, head of the Hosbec association of Valencia region hoteliers told The Telegraph that he did not expect to see the bulk of UK tourism to Spain take off until August, which could mean there might still be flight cancellations up until then.

READ ALSO: LATEST: What are the rules for travelling to Spain from all countries?

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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”