UK Government announces system whereby its partnership with airlines will fly tourists stranded abroad home

Updated 2.30pm, 31/3: Despite the Foreign Secretary’s announcement, the British Embassy in Madrid has clarified the Government’s stance. They say:

After the Foreign Secretary’s statement yesterday, we’ve had many queries asking about repatriation flights from Spain. There are still commercial options running across Spain, so we are not planning repatriation flights.

Original post 31 March: As Dominic Raab announced yesterday, many thousands of British nationals currently stuck abroad will be flown home under a new arrangement between the British government and a range of airlines including BA, Virgin, EasyJet, Jet2, and Titan. The Government has now confirmed that its plan is a twin-track approach:

  • airlines recognising their responsibility for transporting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home, through offering them alternatives where routes are cancelled, allowing them to change tickets, where permissible – including between carriers – and offering them the latest information and advice as the situation changes
  • where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights – operated by the airlines above and others – to fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents

The Government says that special charter flights for countries with no commercial routes will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision. In some places, access for flights to land and the ability to move around within the country to assemble for return flights will also be decisive factors.

Charter flights are already up and running to Ghana and Tunisia, with more countries to be added this week with the aim of bringing people back from countries such as India and South Africa where large numbers of British travellers are stuck and commercial routes are completely suspended. Intense negotiations are underway too with countries around the world to secure permissions for return flights where airspace has been closed.

The British Government has pledged up to £75 million to pay airlines for the additional charter flights to ensure tickets are affordable. Once special flights have been arranged, these will be promoted through the government’s travel advice and by the British embassy or high commission in country. British travellers who want a seat on the flight will book and pay directly through a dedicated travel management company.

British tourists stranded abroad who want to return to the UK should first check if there are commercial routes available by visiting the airline websites, FCO travel advice pages for the country they are in and local British embassy social media.

If there are no commercial options, they should visit the travel advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through our booking agents CTM.

Where people are in real need, consular teams will work with them to consider their options. As a last resort, the Foreign Office will offer an emergency loan.

19 Comments

  1. We are stuck in Lanzarote . We have had 3 flights that we were booked on cancelled. How and when can we get back to Bristol in the Uk. We have booked other flights but they won’t be flying until May and that is if they don’t get cancelled. Can you help.
    Roy Jelfs

  2. Author

    I’ve moved your comment to the post I made earlier this morning and hope that you find the help there useful. Beyond that which national Governments are doing, I can’t help, I’m afraid.

  3. Janet i asked jill illsley of the FT for advice on cancelled BA flights and vouchers offered . Basically if you want a refund dont accept a voucher as they will not then allow a refund. I suspect the same with EJ .
    Hi DAvid – BA says this:
    For guidance, if a flight has been cancelled by us, customers can choose to fly at a new date, take a voucher, or ask for a full refund.

    Customers can rebook online, or call us to action a refund – and customers can claim a up to refund 12 months after the cancellation of their flight.

    Once they have requested a voucher they can’t change to a refund, and vice versa.

    Jill again – so I hope you have not accepted the voucher. Better to wait until you can get through to BA on the fund and ask for a refund.

  4. Author

    many thanks, David!

  5. I am in Tenerife,I have had 2 of my flights cancelled by Ryanair,Even though the airline said the 2nd one would definitely not be cancelled,I have a 3rd flight booked for 2nd May,But to me I feel that one will be cancelled also the way things are going,O would like to know when I can get s flight home please

  6. Author

    I have no idea, I’m afraid, other than clearly there will not be repatriation flights laid on by the UK Government.

  7. EasyJet not doing well!

    Originally due to return to UK from Gran Canaria with EasyJet on 7 April. Found out on website (many hours before being advised by email) that flight had been “disrupted”. Online I changed to flight on 8 April. Same again!!! Now moved to 15 April – will it fly???? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Personally not keen on taking any indirect flight via Madrid or Barcelona where corona virus is rife – also worried could get stuck if connecting flight is cancelled.

    Trying to talk to EasyJet almost impossible – got through to someone once and got cut off mid second sentence! ☹️☹️

    The absence of a published email to contact them on is outrageous.

  8. We asked Ryanair for a refund when they cancelled our flight on the 20/03, which they promised to repay in 7 days, we are still waiting

  9. My husband and I are stuck in the UK,we have had numerous flights cancelled as we live in Lanzarote .
    Just need to get home.
    So frustrating can’t get in touch with airlines no one ever picks up emails never answered .
    Make matters worse my husband is n blood pressure medication and is running out ..we can get them but charging us £60 disgusting how on earth are we to pay this .Never been so stressed

  10. To all posters.
    Rules as to the duty of care by airlines re cancelled Flights has not been exempted by the eu.

  11. I am in Tenerife and have my cat with me but I want to go back home as I Have been furloughed and am struggling to pay the rent here now. How can I get home with my cat?

  12. Author

    You need to find a flight that will take you both. I’m afraid that there are few flights, and the Foreign Office advises travellers to check with airlines direct, as well as looking at the FCO’s own social media where they try to show a selection of availability each day on both Facebook and Twitter.

  13. I can’t offer you a home but I can offer your cat one. I had 3 cats until 23 March now just the 2. If you can’t arrange a suitable flight for all of you the offer stands for the moggie!

  14. Angela
    I have a nice 3 bed apartment you can have a room for nothing rent is paid to next year but no cats i have a car to visit moggie i live in Santa Cruz

  15. Angela i am 70 lost my wife iast year but it is to nice to help people in trouble just buy your food

  16. Author

    David and Theresa, how lovely of you both!!!

  17. Janet
    You are the lovely one in all of this bringing people together

  18. Janet
    It is strange what you wrote David and Theresa my late wife was Theresa i did not mind life goes on

  19. Angela – let’s hope between us we can help you, and your moggie. Send me an email if it’s of any interest to you.

    Thanks Janet for your help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.