Travel news – live: Holiday bookings drop by 83% under UK rules, and France bans unvaccinated US travellers

As UK travellers wait to see what changes the government will make to the “traffic light” system, The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder has made his predictions.

“The UK’s travel restrictions make us a laughing stock abroad – but they are also crippling airlines and holiday firms.

“Assuming the leaks are correct and the whole ludicrous system is to be dismantled, the industry will naturally be relieved – but will also demand to know why the government made going abroad so difficult for so long.

“The current restrictions aren’t just making holidaymakers jumpy about booking – they are also destroying inbound tourism to the UK, and hundreds of thousands of jobs with it.

“The red list is way too long. Travel to almost a third of the world’s countries requires thousands of pounds spent on 11 nights in a hotel room on arrival.

Expert analysts concur that Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, the Maldives, South Africa and Turkey should be taken off the red list. But as the government has shown many times, it can deliver wildly different conclusions.”

In other news, Qantas has scheduled flights between London and Sydney and London and Melbourne from 18 December.

Follow the latest travel news below:


Scrap amber list and testing for the double jabbed, says Heathrow boss

Heathrow Airport has called on the government to scrap all testing for double vaccinated travellers as it struggles to recover from business lost to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK’s largest airport has also urged authorities to remove the amber list and instead create a “safe but simple two-tier system” comprised of just a green and a red list.

Under these proposals, fully vaccinated arrivals from green list locations would no longer be required to take a test, whereas those who are not fully vaccinated would need to take lateral flow tests pre-departure and post-arrival.

Only those who test positive would need to take a more expensive PCR test.

Lucy Thackray15 September 2021 10:36


Two out of five former rail passengers stay away from trains

Rail use in the UK is still well below pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT).

In the week from 7 September, passenger numbers averaged 60.3 per cent of weekly numbers prior to the Covid crisis.

While some train operators report a rebound in leisure travellers to pre-pandemic levels, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) says only one-third of commuter journeys are currently being made.

The rail industry has launched a marketing campaign to try to persuade passengers back on board – assuring them that public transport is safe. But some train operators, as well as the London Underground, are still cordoning off parts of carriages as a Covid precaution.

Simon Calder15 September 2021 10:00


What time is the travel ‘traffic light’ update expected today?

Three weeks after the last update to the UK’s “traffic light” travel lists, the government is expected to announce the latest changes to the green, amber and red lists today or tomorrow, 15 or 16 September.

There is no clarity on the exact timing of the announcement by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, but it is expected to be on either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.

However, past experience – coupled with the health secretary and Prime Minister both hinting at larger changes to the UK’s travel system in the past 24 hours – suggests we cannot be sure there will be significant changes to the lists.

Lucy Thackray15 September 2021 09:26


Qantas will restart Lon-Aus flights – but only if quarantine is eased, says exec

Direct flights between the UK and Australia will be restored only if Australia’s quarantine rules are eased by the government in Canberra, a Qantas executive has said.

The airline has put its first flights from London to Sydney, Perth and Melbourne on sale from 19 December. A return from Heathrow to Sydney via Singapore, departing on the first date and returning early in the New Year, costs almost £2,000.

But Stephanie Tully, the airline’s chief customer officer, warned that if a two-week hotel quarantine for vaccinated arrivals to Australia was still required, “we will not get the demand we need to operate”. She said that testing should be sufficient.

She also said that only Sydney and Melbourne may appear on the international route network initially if the governments in Queensland and Western Australia keep their state borders closed.

Lucy Thackray15 September 2021 09:02


Anyone getting on a plane ‘should be vaccinated’ says Fauci

The chief medical adviser to the US president, Dr Anthony Fauci, has said in an interview that he would advise all travellers to get vaccinated before flying.

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci told US digital news outlet The Skimm.

US authorities have stopped short of implementing a vaccine mandate for flyers, though all travellers must wear masks in airports and on planes or risk a $500-minimum fine.

Fauci also responded to rapper Nicki Minaj’s tweet suggesting that the Covid-19 vaccines could cause impotence in men.

“The answer to that, Jake, is a resounding no. There’s no evidence that it happens,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Lucy Thackray15 September 2021 08:03


New airline promises customers a ‘hefty dose of love’

A new Canadian airline has revealed an extraordinary business plan – with touches of philosophy – as it launches flights from Montreal to Mexico.

OWG, whose name stands for Off We Go, promises to “offer its travellers an experience that is the complete opposite of low-cost flights”.

The carrier says: “Our vision is to give you a hefty dose of love.”

It involves “gathering travellers into three specific aircraft zones to provide a customised experience”.

“Singles will have the chance to travel in the High Zone, couples will be pampered in the Love Zone and families will be able to meet in the Heart Zone,” OWG says.

The only clue about what happens in any of these is that the Heart Zone is “located at the rear of the aircraft closer the lavatories and flight attendants”.

Other airlines champion their reliability or route network. OWG promises philosophy on the flight path to Mexico.

“Through this journey, you will not only discover a place, a different way of life and new faces, but you will also discover yourself.”

Simon Calder15 September 2021 07:39


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates.

Lucy Thackray15 September 2021 07:37


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