When the UK government announced that it would add Mexico to its red list, demand for flights from Mexico to the UK before the deadline shot through the roof. Aware of the seriousness of the situation, British Airways made sure it pulled out all the stops to get people home in time.
Throughout the pandemic, many major countries have frequently been updating their travel rules. Such rules and restrictions are intended to stop the flow of COVID-19 variants. However, changes are typically implemented at short notice due to their nature.
A mammoth repatriation
At the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines around the world were forced to operate many one-off flights to repatriate citizens stranded abroad when travel suddenly shut down. In the case of British Airways, one particular mission saw three 777s picking up passengers stranded on a cruise ship in Havana, Cuba.
While many assumed that such repatriation efforts were now behind us, it seems that wasn’t the case after all. According to schedule information from Cirium, British Airways had five flights scheduled from Mexico to the UK between when the announcement was made and when the rule changes entered force on Sunday morning.
These flights had a total capacity of 1,428. Many would already have had a decent number of bookings, leading to a scramble for the last remaining places. British Airways decided to take action rather than leaving passengers to fight for the places with high prices.
Adding capacity and capping prices
British Airways immediately began retiming existing flights and adding further flights to carry as many passengers back to the UK before 04:00 on Sunday as possible. In addition, the airline capped the fees that flights were being sold for and made free flight changes possible to help those who may be worried about the financial impact of the changes.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
The repatriation ended with three last flights landing into Gatwick in the early hours before the 04:00 cutoff, although the last flight was cutting it close with a scheduled arrival time of 03:05.
- BA1242 – Boeing 787 from Mexico City – Landed: 01:36
- BA2200 – Boeing 777 from Cancun – Landed: 02:03
- BA2202 – Boeing 777 from Cancun – Landed: 02:40
Why the rush?
You may be wondering why there was even a rush to return to England in the first place. It’s all to do with how red-list arrivals are treated entering the country. Firstly, generally, only UK citizens and residents can fly to the UK if they’ve been in a red list country in the past ten days before travel.
Once this limited group of people arrives in the country, they are separated at the border and bussed to a quarantine hotel for ten nights. This currently costs £1,750 but will rise to £2,285 if booked from Thursday onwards.
What do you make of British Airways’s effort to repatriate those in Mexico before the red-list changes? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below!