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Published on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Airlines under fire for jumping the gun as easyJet and Ryanair re-launch international flights


Airlines have been criticised for re-launching thousands of international flights even though the Foreign Office (FCO) is still advising against all non-essential overseas travel.

Ryanair launched its summer flying programme today and plans to offer 1,000 flights across Europe.

EasyJet is ramping up its flying programme from today, offering 500 flights a day across Europe. Included are more than 900 flights a week to and from the UK.

Wizz Air, which resumed flights on May 1 has added more services from Doncaster Sheffield Airport today.

Consumers' association Which? suggested it was unfair that airlines were re-launching flights when many of those holding tickets won't be able to travel and won't be entitled to refunds either.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: "Airlines are re-starting thousands more flights, despite the fact that many passengers won't fly because the FCO's advice against non-essential travel remains in place.

"These passengers won't be given a refund, and even if they rebook could well have to pay more because fares have increased."

Passengers might also have to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the UK as there's been no official confirmation yet on which destinations will be included in the government's plan for quarantine-free travel.

The government was expected to reveal the full list today, but the announcement is understood to have been delayed until tomorrow.

Ryanair said it plans to operate 40% of its usual capacity throughout July. It described the move as 'great news' for passengers and crew, who have been grounded for more than three months.

"It's time for Europe to go back flying again, it's time to reboot Europe's tourism industry, and Ryanair is proud to lead this initiative with over 1,000 daily flights," said CEO Michael O'Leary.

However, airlines have consolidated some flights and, in some cases, are transferring customers to different flights. BA confirmed this week that it has moved all of its Gatwick short-haul flights for July and August to Heathrow.

"Some customers are being told their original flight has been abandoned and they've been transferred to a new airport or a different flight at a different time, because the airline has reduced its service," added Boland.

"This still counts as a cancellation, so passengers don't have to accept it if they don't want to and have the right to a full refund instead.

"Meanwhile, thousands of passengers are still waiting for refunds for flights cancelled during the UK's lockdown. The regulator cannot continue to turn a blind eye and must urgently use its powers to hold airlines to account, rather than letting them return to normal and get away with their actions."


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