The first Britons jetted off on holiday today since the ban on foreign travel was lifted —but a cabinet minister advised people not to travel to amber zones.
Thousands of people were flying out of Heathrow and Gatwick, with airports expecting their busiest day of the year.
However, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng urged people not to travel to countries on the amber list which includes Spain, France, Italy and Greece. It comes as industry bosses warned that the industry will not survive unless more destinations are added to the green list in June.
Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: “People are allowed to do things but it doesn’t mean that everybody should be going away at the same time.
“I think what Matt [Hancock] is saying is that yes, you can go to an amber country, but it would probably be advisable at this stage not to.”
Travellers are now able to visit 12 countries on the Government’s green list, including Portugal, without isolating on their return.
Those who do travel to an amber country are required to quarantine at home for 10 days on their return.
The traffic light system is due to be reviewed in early June, when industry bosses hope more countries will be put on the green list.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they could not continue a season with “only a handful of destinations” on there.
She said if the green list is not expanded in early June: “It will be catastrophic. It really will. The industry that’s been shut down for almost 14 months cannot survive on a handful of destinations.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary warned that while fares will remain low this summer, they could soar in 2022 as the number of seats will be 25 per cent lower than before the pandemic due to airlines collapsing or reducing their operations.
He told BBC Breakfast: “There’s no doubt in my mind that prices will rise, but that won’t affect bookings for summer 2021.”
Kevin and Pauline Nash from Essex were among the first to board a green-list flight to Portugal from Gatwick Airport this morning.
In the queue for the plane to Faro, Mr Nash, a company chairman, 66, said: “We’re very excited to go on holiday, we haven’t been since last September.”
Asked what they planned to do in Faro, he said: “Open the doors of our villa and look out to sea and just go, ‘Ahhh’.”
Ms Nash, a housewife, 54, added: “And then get a cocktail. It’s just the freedom again to be able to do this — and it feels safe.”
Portugal is due to welcome 16 flights from England at Faro Airport in the Algarve today.