The United Kingdom has formally kicked off its £75 million repatriation program. It is designed to bring stranded British tourists back to the country during this time of crisis.
Many thousands of Brits are currently stranded abroad as a result of the global coronavirus crisis. In fact, as the disease has spread around the globe, vital air routes have been closed. This has hit the European routes particularly hard. In fact, earlier today we reported that the lack of flights is even having an effect on the accuracy of weather forecasting. Britain is now repatriating those stranded as the flights have been stopped.
How does it work?
The United Kingdom has set aside £75 million pounds for its repatriation program. The program uses several different methods to get passengers home. To start with, passengers are being advised to fly with scheduled carriers where possible. However, routes are continually being closed due to increasing government restrictions, and decreasing passenger demands. For example, British Airways will be suspending its Sydney service.
The next avenue being explored by the United Kingdom government is charter flights. However, unlike the repatriation flights organized by the CAA in the wake of Thomas Cook’s collapse, these won’t be free.
Passengers will still have to pay for a seat on these flights. That may leave you wondering why the government has dedicated £75 million to the program. While the flights won’t be free, they will be government subsidized. This will ensure that the flights remain affordable, and prices don’t get inflated.
The British Government has initially partnered with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, and Jet2. However further airlines could be added as time progresses. It is interesting that Ryanair is not on the initial list. The airline is keeping its fleet operational so that it can help repatriate people.
According to the Guardian, the United Kingdom’s repatriation flights are now getting underway. The first flight will be operated from Algeria tomorrow. As previously mentioned, government subsidies will keep the end cost to passengers down. In this case, tickets will cost £186 per passenger.
Further flights are due to operate from India, Nepal, and South Africa. Many other destinations are still yet to be added to this growing list of destinations. Setting up these flights is not as simple as taking off and flying. Permission needs to be obtained from local governments, especially when travel bans are in place. However, when there is a will, there is a way, and the United Kingdom government wants to make sure that these passengers are not forgotten.