Winter sun getaways boom as travel companies exploit quarantine cut with deals

Demand for winter sun breaks surged on Wednesday after travel companies exploited the cut in quarantine by offering deals for families desperate to get away.

Ryanair was the first airline out of the stocks by offering 20 per cent off all flights from December 1.

It has also added 21 additional flights from the UK to its Christmas schedule flying to and from countries including Belgium, Greece, Romania, Spain and Portugal.

Other airlines indicated they were reviewing their schedules and offers but competitor airlines such as easyJet and Jet2 were thought likely by industry insiders to follow suit.

Wild Frontiers, a travel company that specialises in bespoke holidays and small groups, has also laid on new trips for the Christmas and New Year period to destinations including Egypt, Sudan and Guatemala.

Capacity to key travel corridor destinations

It followed Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, announcing on Tuesday that from December 15, travellers coming into the UK from “red list” countries will be able to leave their 14 day quarantine if they test negative on the fifth day.

Holidaymakers returning to the UK will be able to book their day five tests in advance from a list of approved companies to be published by the Government. 

They will include fast LAMP tests, which cost up to £80 and return results in an hour, and “gold standard” PCR tests, which can cost between £120 and £180. Travellers are expected to be able to post their tests, attend private test sites or have them couriered.

Airlines on Tuesday urged the Government to go further and introduce pre-departure testing up to 72 hours before flying which could mean sidestepping quarantine on arrival.

However, Mr Shapps downplayed such a move. “At the moment, from a medical science point of view, that doesn’t really work. You need to have a period during which the incubation could have taken place, during which people haven’t been mixing with others," he said.

He told The Telegraph on Monday that the next step he favoured would be the use of rapid lateral flow tests, which would be taken daily for seven days to enable people to freely leave their homes, avoiding quarantine entirely.

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