Airlines across the UK have laid on thousands of extra seats to green list countries following the government’s announcement of its 12 “low-risk” destinations with the lightest restrictions for returning travellers from 17 May.
Budget carrier Ryanair announced it has made an additional 175,000 extra seats available to Portugal from that date, while British Airways confirmed it has added additional flights from London and Newcastle to Faro, as well as launching new routes to the capital of the Algarve region from Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Elsewhere, Wizz Air revealed it would be restarting flights to five destinations on the green list from 17 May, including Faro, Lisbon, Tel-Aviv, Reykjavík and Gibraltar, while Jet2 announced the Madeiran capital of Funchal as a new city break destination, flying from nine UK bases starting from 1 November.
Tui also confirmed that new flights and holidays from London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol would be flying to Funchal from 17 May.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK, said: “These destinations have always been firm favourite for Brits, so it’s no surprise demand has increased following speculation they could be available from 17 May without the need to quarantine on return.”
Ryanair’s director of marketing, Dara Brady, added: “We are very pleased to announce 175,000 extra seats to Portugal on the back of the UK’s green list.
“With quarantine-free travel now permitted to the likes of Faro, Lisbon and Porto, even more flights have been added to our UK schedule in order to meet the demand from our customers.”
The news comes as airfares soared following transport secretary Grant Shapps’ unveiling of the green list on Friday.
The Independent found a British Airways flight on Friday from London to Portugal, which was on sale for £130 at 3pm, had increased to £270 by 6pm – an increase of 108 per cent.
Foreign travel will reopen this summer under a traffic light system, with countries split into three categories: green, amber or red, depending on their level of risk in relation to Covid-19 and with corresponding travel restrictions.
Destinations make it onto the green list based on their case numbers, vaccination rates, and prevalence of any virus variants of concern. Visitors to these countries will not be required to quarantine upon their return to the UK unless they test positive for coronavirus. However, they will have to take a pre-departure test before returning and are required to take a PCR test within two days of arriving back into the UK.
Only 12 nations and territories qualified for “no quarantine” status for returning travellers: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; and Israel.
Of these, only four look to be viable holiday destinations for Brits for the foreseeable future: Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland and Israel.