Travel news – live: Gatwick boss calls for PCR tests to be scrapped, as Canada reopens to the world

The UK’s “traffic light” travel system could be scrapped from next month, according to one industry figure.

The PC Agency CEO Paul Charles, who has been sharing industry updates throughout the pandemic, tweeted:

“The traffic light system is expected to be scrapped by 1st Oct – at last. Airlines and some of us in the sector are aware of plans to create a simpler system, where countries are either red or not. This would be the US model in effect, which I’ve been calling for.”

“Scrapping of traffic light system would be a relief to pretty well everyone and herald a ‘living with an endemic’ approach, rather than blanket country measures. Would be a relief to countries in Africa, South America, Asia which don’t deserve to be red-listed,” said Charles.

Critics of the UK’s system have pointed out that the country’s travel sector is opening up far more slowly than the rest of the world.

Follow the latest travel news below:


On the Beach is back in business with free Covid tests for customers

After halting summer bookings in May due to uncertainty around the government’s traffic light travel system, On the Beach has announced it is now selling holidays again – and offering free Covid-19 tests to customers booking trips before 30 September (for travel in 2021).

The online travel agent is offering travellers booking package holidays for the remainder of this month to Spain, Greece, Cyprus and the Spanish and Greek islands (to take place in 2021) free tests in a bid to rebuild customer confidence.

With the cost of Covid tests proving a barrier for some customers, On the Beach aims to remove this by providing free testing, which includes both antigen and PCR tests.

Speaking in May after the company’s shock decision to pause holidays, founder and chief executive Simon Cooper said: “There’s nothing we want more than to be able to send customers on holiday.

“But with the current number of unknowns we don’t think that now is the right time for customers to book new holidays departing in the next few months.”

Now, the firm has returned with a £1.5 million investment designed to restore customer belief in the brand.

More than 1.5 million people booked with On the Beach in 2019.

Joanna Whitehead8 September 2021 16:46


Qantas will ban unvaccinated flyers once flights resume, predicts chief executive

Australia’s flagship airline will likely only allow vaccinated travellers on its international flights when they resume this winter, its CEO has said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said “We think that’s going to be one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe and getting into those countries,” reported The Points Guy.

Qantas had already announced that it is requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated by the end of March 2022, and Australia has confirmed that it will be instating vaccine passports for its citizens once overseas travel resumes.

Of travel resuming, Joyce said: ““The population needs it. I think people want to connect together, people want to see family again. People want to do business again. There’s a lot of very important reasons why we should start opening up when we meet those key targets on the vaccination plan.”

Lucy Thackray8 September 2021 16:07


Revealed: what cabin crew code words really mean

Ever heard cabin crew ask each other “Is Tom Cruise is on board?”, or “Have you found Bob yet?”

A frequent flyer has revealed the meanings behind these key code phrases often used by flight staff to avoid attracting the attention of passengers.

According to the source – a flying doctor who has spent quiet pandemic flights quizzing cabin crew on the subject – Tom Cruise refers to the position of the tea (T) and coffee (C) on their service trolleys, while “Bob” is an acronym for “Best on Board” – referring to the best-looking passenger spotted by the team.

Joanna Whitehead8 September 2021 15:46


UK traffic light system ‘not fit for purpose’ says BA boss Sean Doyle

British Airways’ chief executive Sean Doyle has said that the UK’s traffic light travel rules system is “not fit for purpose”.

The airline boss told CNN’s Richard Quest: “We had the traffic light system over the summer.

“There was some progress made, but I think it’s not fit for purpose.

“It needs to be simplified. It needs to be adapted in the same way that we see in Europe and in the US.”

Doyle added: “We’d encourage the government to look at seizing that opportunity in the next few weeks.

“Aviation needs the same crack of the whip economically as other sectors are getting domestically.”

Lucy Thackray8 September 2021 14:47


Powerful earthquake strikes southwest Mexico, killing one

State governor Hector Astudillo told local television that one man has been killed by a falling post in Coyuca de Benitez, while the quake also caused power outages in several Mexican states.

Many gathered in the streets following the tremor, which was initially measured by the US Geological Survey (UGS) as 7.4 in magnitude.

Watch video of scenes from Mexico today:

Powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes southwestern Mexico killing at least one

Lucy Thackray8 September 2021 14:30


British Airways launches sustainability drive, BA Better World

British Airways has announced a new sustainability push, BA Better World, which will involve using more energy-efficient planes, A320neos, as well as collaborating with BP on sourcing sustainable aviation fuel.

A320neo aircraft have 20% less fuel burn & CO2 emissions, and 50% less noise emissions than the previous generation, the A320ceo.

The sustainable fuel will be used on flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during the UK’s COP26 climate change summit in early November.

“We’re clear that we have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the planet and have a detailed plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, including investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft, improving our operational efficiency and investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and zero emissions aircraft,” said British Airways CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle at the launch of the programme.

Lucy Thackray8 September 2021 14:20


Portugal and Spain saw half of their usual summer visitors this year, says new data

The desperate state of inbound tourism to the UK has been revealed in new visitor figures from the analysts ForwardKeys.

Of the top 20 European countries, the UK is way behind in last place – with just 14 per cent of summer 2019 visitors in July and August this year.

Ireland, the next worse for international arrivals, is on 22 per cent.

While France could manage only 37 per cent, Portugal and Spain both welcomed half the normal number of visitors this summer.

Croatia, on the UK’s “green list,” attracted 60 per cent, while Turkey managed 62 per cent – despite having spent the entire summer on the UK “red list,” with virtually no British visitors.

Cyprus achieved 64 per cent, while the stand-out success was Greece – with 86 per cent of summer 2019 visitors in July and August.

Simon Calder8 September 2021 13:19


Singapore opens up to vaccinated travellers – from Germany

A plane from Germany has just touched down in Singapore with the first passengers taking advantage of a new quarantine-free scheme for vaccinated travellers.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ325 from Frankfurt touched down in the city-state at dusk on Wednesday – the first arrival under the “Vaccinated Travel Lane” (VTL) scheme. It is open to just two countries: Brunei and Germany.

Passengers to Singapore must declare that they have not left Germany for the previous three weeks. They must undertake a PCR test within 48 hours before departure.

On arrival, they take another PCR test and must then travel by private car or taxi to their accommodation, and remain there until a negative result is obtained. They must also take PCR tests – at their own expense – on days three and seven of their stays.

A Singapore airlines plane on the tarmac

(Simon Calder)

Simon Calder8 September 2021 12:26


New £29 test kit can be packed with you and taken in your hotel room

A new £29 ‘fit to fly’ travel test kit has hit the market, removing the need for a video consultation with a doctor before results being delivered.

My Travel Test, created by the Private Harley Street Clinic (PHSC), is designed to be packed with you for your travels and can be taken unsupervised, with a video and photos of you taking the test uploaded to an app instead.

Dr Mark Ali, medical director of the Private Harley Street Clinic, said: “We have the technology to run this all from a smartphone, from anywhere in the world, and at £29 we believe that it offers really good value and speed for families and business travellers alike.

“By using smart technology, we have removed the need to have a call with a doctor and simplified the process.”

Lucy Thackray8 September 2021 11:52


New travel rules system: ‘only vaccination status will count’, says a source

Predictions are growing that the UK’s current traffic light travel system will be simplified or ended by the beginning of October.

A source “briefed on the proposal” told The Telegraph: “It’s about whether you are vaccinated or not, rather than the country you are travelling to.

“What it means is that green and amber disappear and only vaccination status will count for where you travel. For a vaccinated person, just as now all countries apart from red are ‘green’.

“For an unvaccinated person, it means that your travel to a green country might be slightly more difficult.

“There’s a potential psychological boost in that a lot of people think travel to amber is risky whereas if it disappeared, people may be more willing to travel to X, Y or Z.

“It could also incentivise people to get vaccinated. There’s been a slowdown in the rate of vaccination, particularly among younger people and that’s a way to encourage take-up.”

Lucy Thackray8 September 2021 11:20


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