01 Sep Coronavirus: Price of flight from Portugal to UK soars as quarantine expected | UK News
The price of a flight from Portugal to the UK has soared as the country is expected to be added to the British government’s quarantine list.
British Airways has seats available for £554 on Thursday, while the same journey can be made seven days later for just £139.
EasyJet has sold out all its flights from Faro – which serves the Algarve – to airports in Britain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
UK holidaymakers in the country are scrambling to return home to avoid having to self-isolate if the quarantine measure is imposed.
It comes after the head of British Airways’ parent company warned restoring Portugal to the UK’s quarantine list would cause “further chaos and hardship”.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, criticised what he called an “ever-shifting list” of requirements, claiming the UK had “officially hung up the closed sign”.
There were 22.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Portugal in the seven days to August 31, up from 14.5 a week earlier.
The UK’s threshold for considering adding a country to its quarantine list is 20 or more cases per 100,000 people.
Ministers also take into account trends in case numbers, deaths, countries’ testing capacities and whether any increase in infections is down to a contained outbreak or general transmission.
Chris Sainty, the British Ambassador to Portugal, warned “things can change quickly”.
Taking issue with the UK’s approach to quarantine, Mr Walsh wrote: “Healthy people shouldn’t be locked up for 14 days simply because they have been travelling.”
He also condemned the government’s “blanket quarantine on travel from a staggering 160 countries”.
Ministers have taken a “chaotic approach to quarantine”, he claimed, writing in The Times: “France, but not Italy; Portugal and then not Portugal and the Canary Islands – hundreds of miles from mainland Spain.”
He said this month’s return to work was where “the rubber will truly hit the tarmac”, and that the aviation industry was vital to Britain’s economy.
He claimed that people “relaxing on holiday pose no more of a threat than someone catching a bus to the supermarket”.
Turning to advice, Mr Walsh urged ministers to “introduce a simple testing regime that allows a more nuanced approach of flying from region to region or city to city”.
He said that restrictions were holding back economic recovery in the airline sector, writing: “Passengers want to travel. Reassuring them that flying is safe is key to any recovery.”
Portugal was only added to Britain’s “safe list” on 22 August – after cases fell below the threshold.
Internet searches for Portuguese holidays spiked by more than 2,000% after the government announced Britons returning from the country would no longer have to self-isolate.
Mr Sainty said it had been “great to see people reunited with their families and enjoying the summer”.
But he also urged people to “factor in the risks of travelling abroad in this fast-moving situation”.
“Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly quarantine if required,” he added.