By Andrew Atkinson
Ryanair flew into Spain yesterday, on June 21, as the country reopened its borders, amid the coronavirus pandemic that lead to global travel lockdown in March.
“Although we are officially back with 1,000 daily flights from 1 July, across the network, some routes started on Sunday,” said a spokesperson from Ryanair.
The first Ryanair flight into Alicante-Elche left Manchester airport at 6.30 am on Sunday, 21 June, landing in Alicante – Elche at 9.45 am, 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
It was joined on the ground by an arrival from Leeds – Bradford airport at 12.40 pm and from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport 15 minutes later.
Additional Ryanair flights on Sunday into Alicante-Elche arrived from East Midlands Airport, Birmingham, Dublin, Glasgow and London Stansted.
On June 19 the Spanish airport authority said holidaymakers coming into Spain from June 21 will have to pass three health checks but with the threat of enforced quarantine for British holidaymakers withdrawn these would hardly seem to provide any hardship.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, announced during an interview with the BBC on Saturday that British citizens will be allowed to enter Spain without quarantine from 21 June, as will citizens of all EU member countries . “We are going to allow British visitors to enter Spain like the rest of the members of the EU and the Schengen zone from 21 June without the need for quarantine,” González Laya said.
The possible quarantine imposed on British tourists was threatened after learning that the British government would impose quarantine on travellers from Spain as a measure of “reciprocity”. “We are maintaining contacts with the British authorities to see if they will do the same. We are doing it out of respect for the 410,000 Britons who have their second residence in Spain,” she explained in response to a question from the presenter about the British position.
However the minister also referred to the triple check, the first control of which is a document that travellers must fill in with information providing their location during their trip, and whether or not they have had coronavirus.
The second and third controls will involve a visual inspection and a temperature check at the arrival airport. If a passenger fails any one of the three checks, he or she will then be seen by a doctor.
Spain expects an imminent decision in its talks with the UK on whether to establish a travel corridor to facilitate tourism and avoid imposing a quarantine on travellers, according to a report.
A Spanish foreign ministry source told Reuters on Friday that the two countries are in talks over the prospect of implementing an ‘air bridge’.
Britons account for more than a fifth of the roughly 80 million tourists that Spain receives every year, and Madrid has said it is talking with London to try to avoid quarantine in the UK for travellers arriving from Spain. We have opened our borders to UK tourists without a quarantine,” the foreign ministry source said, adding that he now expected a decision from Britain.
From July 1 Ryanair will operate flights to key holiday airports in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. New safety measures include face masks to be worn on board.
CEO Michael O’Leary said thousands of British families have already booked holidays in Portugal, Spain and Italy for summer.
Ryanair’s chief executive Eddie Wilson said: “After four months of lockdown we welcome these moves by governments in Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus to open their borders, remove travel restrictions and scrap ineffective quarantines.
“Irish and British families, who have been subject to lockdown for the last 10 weeks can now look forward to booking their much needed family holiday.”
Meanwhile last Monday Brussels Airlines became the first carrier to return to Alicante-Elche airport after the cancellation of operations on March 15 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic when a flight with almost 100 passengers on board touched down during the early evening.
All if the passengers underwent checks implemented by Aena and Health, in collaboration with the Red Cross, to ensure that passengers with temperatures were prevented from entering the province in order to prevent and further outbreaks of coronavirus.
The passengers were supervised by health personnel who used thermal imaging cameras at the arrivals centre; a system that allows body temperature to be checked without the need for passengers to stop.
Only if the healthcare operators detect a fever, are they stopped and subjected to a further test, without having to admit them to a medical centre. The staff are seated in front of a camera and television screen that resembles those at the baggage check-ins.