Airlines have laid on extra flights in Portugal to help British holidaymakers return before the new quarantine deadline comes in overnight.
EasyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) said last week it was putting on larger planes to bring UK holidaymakers back and said today passengers would be able to charge fights without fees.
British Airways, owned by IAG PLC (LON:IAG) also said they could change fight free of charge by booking through the airline’s website.
People visiting Portugal have until 4am tomorrow morning to get back to the UK to avoid spending ten days in self-isolation and taking Covid-19 tests on days two and eight.
Pictures from Portugal have shown long queues of British holidaymakers trying to get flights, pre-flight Covid-19 tests and also to board.
Reports said Faro on the Algarve had an additional 40 flights laid on with 7,000 passengers expected to leave today or more than double the average.
Portugal’s status on the government’s traffic light system was changed from green to amber on Thursday last week sparking an angry response from the airline industry.
“What we don’t understand is why the UK, which has been so successful with vaccines, is expecting its vaccinated citizens travelling to Portugal coming back to quarantine,” Ryanair chief executive Micheal O’Leary said.
The change of stance on Portugal was sparked by a rise in cases of the so-called Delta or Indian variant of Covid-19 and there were fears today that rising infections in the UK might prompt the government to delay its reopening plans.
The current roadmap should see all restrictions lifted in England on 21 June, but a growing number of scientists are calling for at least a few weeks delay to see how the threat of the Indian variant develops.
Health secretary Matt Hancock is to give an update to the House of Commons at 3.30pm.