Coronavirus has resulted in Spain going into lockdown as the country attempts to limit the spread of the deadly virus. Ryanair has subsequently cancelled flights to and from Spain this week, joining airlines easyJet and Jet2 in grounding Spanish operations. The news comes as the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to Spain as the virus spreads.
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Spain has reported 6,391 cases of coronavirus at the time of writing and has had 196 deaths.
The UK government announced today: “The FCO advises against all but essential travel to Spain.
“Spain declared a State of Emergency (“Estado de Alarma”) on 14 March, which introduces a series of measures including significant restrictions on movement throughout the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Transport services will be operating at reduced levels.
“Public gatherings are banned, most shops other than those selling food or other essential items such as pharmacies will be closed, many businesses and all schools and universities are closed, and all citizens have been instructed to remain at home except when going about a limited set of activities in particular to buy food or other essential items, to return home to their primary residence, to go to hospital or other health centres, to go to work (if unable to work from home), to carry out caring or similar duties or in case of real need.
“UK nationals currently in Spain should follow the advice of local authorities.
“Anybody planning to travel to Spain should consult their airline or tour operator.”
Following the lockdown, Ryanair announced it has been “forced” to axe flights.
The cancellations are diarised from Monday 16 March until Thursday 19 March.
All Ryanair customers will be contacted and travellers are encouraged not to telephone the airline.
The budget airline said in a statement today: “In response to the decision of the Spanish Government to ‘lock down’ the entire country to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Ryanair Group Airlines (including Buzz and Lauda) has been forced to severely reduce flights to/from Spain, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands from 24:00 Sun 15 Mar until 24:00 Thurs 19 Mar.
“We are contacting all affected customers by email to advise them of their options and we urge customers not to call us.
“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and the safety and well-being of our people and customers is our main priority.
“We will continue to comply fully with all WHO and EASA guidelines and we will follow any travel restrictions that are imposed.
“Ryanair Group Airlines apologises sincerely to all customers affected by these restrictions introduced by the Spanish Government which are necessary to combat the Covid-19 virus.”
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Airline Jet 2 have also cancelled Spain flights.
At least five Jet2 aircraft heading for Spain from the UK turned back yesterday morning, as details of the restrictions emerged.
Jet2 announced online today: “In line with the decision made by the Spanish government, we’re cancelling all flights to Mainland Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Murcia and Malaga) for at least the next seven days.
“Our flights from Mainland Spain to the UK are running as scheduled until 21 March 2020 (inclusive). If your booking is affected, we’ll be in touch shortly. Understandably, we’re receiving a lot of calls and messages on social media right now.
“Thank you for your patience as we deal with customers as quickly as possible in departure date order, with priority given to those due to depart within the next 72 hours.”
They have also axed all flights to the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca) and Canary Islands (Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife) for at least the next seven days.
EasyJet also announced it would be suspending all flights from March 17 until March 29.
The airline company will be operating normal flights on Sunday 15 and Monday 16 to allow people to return home.
What are passengers’ rights?
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “With Ryanair joining other airlines with mass cancellations of flights to Spain, the FCO issuing advice against travel to the US, and French ski resorts suddenly shutting for the rest of the season, it’s important that people are made aware of their rights and that companies fulfill their legal obligations to their customers.
“This is a difficult time for travel operators and airlines, but too many people are being given no information at all or poor advice that could risk them being left hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
“Airlines and operators must ensure they are informing customers of how they will get people home, and where appropriate, how they can claim for additional costs they’ve incurred, such as overnight accommodation.”
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