Flight availability for amber list countries jumps 300% despite UK travel warnings

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LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Passengers are escorted through the arrivals area of terminal 5 towards coaches destined for quarantine hotels, after landing at Heathrow airport on April 23, 2021 in London, England. From 4am this morning, passengers landing in the UK from India are now required to stay in isolation at government-approved hotels for ten days, in a bid to prevent the spread of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus. Indian health services are currently struggling to fight soaring infection rates and a rapidly-rising death toll. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Messaging from the government has sowed confusion about whether foreign holidays are actually allowed. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The numbers of foreign flights from the UK to "amber list" destinations have jumped, despite continued uncertainty around the advice from the government about which locations are on the safe list. 

According to data from aviation analysts at Cirium published by The Observer, a total of 1,841 flights were scheduled to France, Spain, Italy and Greece for the two weeks following last Monday. 

That total is a 300% increase compared with the fortnight before. 

Cirium said that the increase could see 356,768 passengers travelling to countries on the amber list. 

The moves from airlines come as the government has continued to warn against travel to amber list countries. 

Industry bosses such as easyJet's (EZJ.L) Johan Lundgren have called the advice "very confusing" and frustrating for customers. 

Speaking last week he said that travel to amber list destinations is "absolutely legal" despite the government's warnings. The legal ban on foreign holidays ended on Monday. 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has previously denied that the government was sending mixed messages about travel.

The majority of popular European destinations are on the amber list, meaning anyone travelling from the UK to those countries is required to take a COVID-19 test before they return and isolate for 10 days, taking two more tests during isolation.

Read more: Week ahead: UK borrowing figures, EU economic sentiment, Biden's budget

Those booking holidays to amber list destinations could be facing losses, with the knock-on effect of potential discrepancies in travel insurance and airline policy posing a potential issue. 

Research from consumer group Which? released last week has showed that those buying travel insurance could be left out of pocket after being left with a false impression of the level of protection they might benefit from.

Which? believes some of this is down to poor communication by travel insurance providers and the use of often confusing, blanket terms such as ‘Covid Cover’ or ‘Enhanced Covid Cover’ on insurers’ websites.

The survey of over 2,800 travel insurance customers, conducted between February and March 2021, found that three in 10 respondents (29%) had committed to bookings or arrangements for international trips this year – with around one in 10 (12%) saying that while they’d not booked or arranged travel, they did have specific plans.

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?

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