As coronavirus restrictions are relaxed across Europe, a number of airlines are restoring their summer schedules. The summer months are the most profitable for European carriers, who are hoping to recoup the losses of this year. So, which airlines are flying this June? Which countries are allowing tourists to enter? Is it even safe to fly? Let’s answer some of these questions.
Borders slowly reopening
The first thing you’ll need to know before you fly this month is which countries are allowing tourists. The coronavirus forced European countries to abandon the free movement of people and opt for strict border control and quarantines. However, as the rate of infections drops, countries are planning to reopen their borders to visitors soon.
June 15th is the day to book your travel within Europe. Germany, Austria, Iceland, Portugal, and Greece all plan to open their borders to EU nationals on this day. Italy is set to open its borders tomorrow, while Spain will do so from July 1st onwards.
Passengers arriving in these countries will be subjected to health checks, but not a mandatory quarantine. Those wishing travel to any EU country should check local border control rules before booking tickets.
One notable holdout in the UK, which only recently instituted a 14-day self-isolation, which goes into effect from Monday to the dismay of many in the travel industry. This means travelers, including UK nationals, arriving in the country will have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entry. This will likely mean a significant hit on tourists wanting to visit the UK. Although, Britons themselves don’t seem particularly deterred from traveling.
However, these border reopenings to do not mean foreign travelers can visit Europe once again. Most border reopenings only apply to intra-European travel and exclude foreigners on short-term visas. The EU border remains closed to all foreign passport holders until June 15th, after which time, individual countries can decide when to receive foreigners.
Spain and Greece plan to allow foreign tourists from July 1st. However, other countries will likely keep their borders closed to prevent imported cases of the coronavirus.
Which airlines are flying?
Border restrictions meant a number of European carriers either suspended operations or are operating skeleton schedules. However, the last few weeks have seen many airlines announce their plans for the summer, in hopes that people are willing to get on a flight.
Most carriers are operating only a fraction of their regular schedules, although some airlines are preparing to ramp up capacity in June and July. Low-cost carriers, which make up a bulk of intra-European flights, are looking to add flights soon.
easyJet plans to restart operations on June 15th, just as borders reopen. Ryanair, Europe’s largest carrier, is operating a skeleton schedule until June 20th but could ramp up operations soon after. The airline has already announced 40% of its flights will run from July 1st.
Hungarian Wizz Air is operating a number of flights, including many from its Luton base. The airline will ramp up flights in the coming weeks, as it tries to be the first airline to offer flights to reopening destinations.
However, if you’re traveling soon and want to sure, it might be best to book with one of the flag carriers. British Airways, Lufthansa, SAS, and others have continued to provide direct services to a number of European destinations during the pandemic. These airlines are also ramping up capacity as more passengers are willing to travel in the coming weeks.
Do keep an eye out on Simple Flying for more news on low-cost airlines expanding their schedules. As borders reopen, airlines might decide to reverse course and raise capacity in the second half of June.
Is it safe to fly and what are airlines doing?
While borders maybe reopening and flights restarting, the question might be is it even safe to travel right now? While the coronavirus spread has slowed in most of Europe, it is still a looming threat. To this end, airports and airlines are enforcing a number of social distancing and hygiene measures.
At the airport, passengers will be required to stand 1.5 to 2 meters apart at check-in and security. Most major airports require all passengers to wear masks or a face covering, while staff may wear protective equipment. Airside, some amenities such as lounges and shops may be closed, but others will be open. Once again, social distancing should be maintained.
Onboard, the experience will be different too. Most airlines have either suspended onboard service or will leave food on the seat prior to the flight. On Ryanair, passengers will have to remain seated the entire flight and request permission to use the washrooms to avoid crowding. Most airlines have also mandated masks for the entirety of the flight.
However, European airlines have squarely rejected the proposal to leave a seat free between passengers. This means you could end up on a middle seat in a fully packed flight. This is a break from major US carriers, some of whom have actively block out the middle seat on flights.
The lifting of border restrictions will be a huge boost to the European tourism industry, which has been crippled by months of lockdown. June is also the month travelers will once again be able to visit the continent freely, as airlines also expand capacity. However, all of this happens as the coronavirus continues to be a major threat to countries, and these gains could be reversed if the second wave of infections hits Europe.
Are you planning a trip this June? Let us know in the comments below.