Flight prices to popular holiday destinations have tripled within hours of the government announcing its updated green list.
The cost of heading to Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Malta surged by up to 200 per cent after they were added to the quarantine-free areas.
Tickets for a return flight to Ibiza on July 3 and July 10 leaped from £149 to £314 while journeys on the same days to Majorca leaped from £153 to £478.
The soaring prices came just hours after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced via Twitter which countries had made the cut for the green list.
He said the Balearic islands – Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca – along with Madeira, Grenada, Barbados, and Bermuda have all been downgraded from amber to green.
It means holidaymakers will be able to return from these countries without being forced into quarantine for 10 days when arriving back in the UK.
Mr Shapps also said the Government will allow those who are double-jabbed to holiday in amber list countries later this summer without having to quarantine on their return.
And in a further boost for Britons, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays announced plans to put on 70 additional flights to Malta and Madeira in anticipation for a huge spike in demand.
Meanwhile six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the UK’s travel red list – meaning only UK citizens and those with residency status can travel from here and must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days.
Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the UK’s travel green list since its inception, will be added to the ‘green watch list’.
Others in this category – which signals that a country might be moved to the amber list in the near future – include Antigua, the Balearic Islands, Barbados and Grenada.
And in another blow France and Germany launched a joint push to make Britons quarantine on arrival in the EU despite Boris Johnson hailing the ‘real opportunity’ of opening travel to double-jabbed holidaymakers.
Travel chiefs welcomed Mr Shapps’ update, with Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss describing the decision to allow Antigua, Barbados and Grenada as a ‘constructive step’ to allow ‘much needed holidays’.
But she also criticised the decision to leave the US on the UK’s amber list, saying: ‘Today’s announcement fails to go far enough.’
Some Britons jumped the gun and revealed they had been booking flights and stays abroad before the Transport Secretary’s announcement.
Hopeful tourists took to social media over the past few days to show their plans for some summer sun, bagging return flight prices as cheap as £21 for Malta and Ibiza and £26 to Mallorca over the next few months.
On another tense day of coronavirus developments:
- Covid-19 case rates in all regions of England are continuing to increase, according to the latest PHE report;
- The North-west spiked to 238.9 cases per 100,000 in the week to June 20 compared to 200.3 previous week;
- Boris Johnson is struggling to contain an apparent Cabinet split as ministers said they will ditch face masks;
- Inflation is expected to rise above 3 per cent ‘for a temporary period’ as the UK economic recovery continues;
- The first lockdown in March 2020 led to a drop in fertility rates and not the baby boom previously predicted.
IBIZA BEFORE: Tickets for a return flight to Ibiza on July 3 and July 10 started at £149 earlier on Thursday
IBIZA AFTER: But journeys to the party island jumped after the announcement to £314
MAJORCA BEFORE: One journey on the same days to Majorca started at £153 earlier on Thursday
MAJORCA AFTER: But to get to the Balearic Island now you will have to fork out around £478
MENORCA BEFORE: A trip with the same firm to nearby Menorca rose from £132 to £312
MENORCA AFTER: Passengers wanting a trip to Menorca next month could have to pay premium prices for their flights
MALTA BEFORE: The price of the flight from Heathrow to Malta was just £201 ahead of the announcement
MALTA AFTER: But after Mr Shapps’ revealed the new list it jumped up to £260
Within hours of Mr Shapps’ announcement prices for flights to the new green list destinations surged by up to 200 per cent.
Jet2’s plane from Stansted to Ibiza and back – at 6am on July 3 and 10.20am on July 10 – jumped from £149 to £314.
Ryanair’s journey to Malta for the same dates – but at 4.55pm and 7.15am – also increased in cost from £201 to £260.
Meanwhile a Jet2 plane out of the Essex airport to Majorca on those days leaped from £153 to £478 within hours of the announcement.
A trip with the same firm to nearby Menorca rose from £132 to £312.
The welcome announcement of the new green list, which comes into effect from June 30, was made after both Scotland and Northern Ireland jumped the gun and revealed the additions before Mr Shapps.
Almost an hour after the Northern Ireland Assembly had revealed the updated green list, the Transport Secretary said in a Twitter post: ‘We’re adding Malta to the Government green list.
‘We’re also adding Madeira, the Balearic Islands, several UK Overseas Territories and Caribbean Islands (including Barbados) to the green list and green watchlist. Israel and Jerusalem are also added to the green watchlist.’
He added: ‘Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries.’
Mr Shapps said more details about the double-vaccination holiday scheme will be unveiled by the government next month.
Six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the UK’s travel red list – meaning only UK citizens and those with residency status can travel from here and must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days.
Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the UK’s travel green list since its inception, will be added to the green watch list – which signals that a country might be moved to the amber list in the near future.
The travel list changes are all due to come into place from June 30, at 4am.
The cost of heading to Ibiza (pictured), Majorca, Menorca and Malta surged by up to 200 per cent after they were added to the quarantine free areas
Britons have been given a major boost to their hopes of a foreign getaway this summer, with 16 locations – including several top holiday hotspots – being added to the UK’s travel green list. Pictured: Pretty Bay at Birzebbuga, Malta – which has been added to the list
The hugely popular Balearic islands – Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca – along with Madeira, Grenada, Barbados (pictured), and Bermuda have all been downgraded from amber to green, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed tonight
Mallorca (pictured: Beach El Arenal) is one of the top holiday hotspots to be put on the UK’s green travel list by Grant Shapps
Bermuda (pictured: Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda) is also being added to the list, with changes set to be made on June 30 at 4am
Both Northern Ireland and Scotland had earlier jumped the gun on the announcement, revealing the 16 countries they were set to allow on their travel green list.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said: From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change.
‘We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list – but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population.’
Travel chiefs welcomed the move, with Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss describing the decision to allow Antigua, Barbados and Grenada as a ‘constructive step’ to allow ‘much needed holidays’.
But she also criticised the decision to leave the US on the UK’s amber list, saying: ‘Today’s announcement fails to go far enough.
The Government’s own evidence shows the US is low risk and should be added to the Green list now. Whilst the transatlantic corridor is closed, £23million in economic value each day is restricted.
‘We urge the UK Government to move the US to the UK’s ‘Green list’ and for the Biden administration to repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers.’
Sean Doyle, chief executive officer of British Airways said also urged the Government to move faster, saying: ‘We cannot afford another missed summer.
‘There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.’
Chief executive of trade group ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said while the green list additions were ‘welcome’ that the Government’s latest update did ‘not on its own deliver a meaningful restart of international travel’.
ABTA chief, Mr Tanzer, said: ‘If the Government is going to continue to place such tight constraints on the industry’s ability to trade, we need them to commit to a package of tailored financial support for the sector, which recognises that the travel industry’s recovery will be slower than that in other sectors of the economy.
‘Travel companies are facing increased furlough and business rates costs next week and – with travel to the most popular holiday destinations still largely restricted – they will simply not have the money to do so.’
On the amber list double jab announcement, he added: ‘We’re glad to hear that the Government intends to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers travelling to amber countries, and this needs to be introduced as quickly as possible.’
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘It is very positive news that ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer. We will work with the Government to make this happen as soon as possible and let Britain fly!’
But travel expert Paul Charles of the PC Agency tweeted: ‘Just to be clear – the ‘green watchlist’ enables #UKGov to switch green countries to Amber or Red without warning.
‘Of the 15 destinations added today, only one, Malta, is pure green. Ministers have not re-instilled confidence in the traffic lights system.’
It comes as France and Germany launched a joint push to make Britons quarantine on arrival in the EU despite Boris Johnson hailing the ‘real opportunity’ of opening travel to double-jabbed holidaymakers.
The bid is to tighten the bloc’s defences against the Indian – or Delta – variant, with countries alarmed at the spike in infections caused by the mutation.
Angela Merkel urged all EU states to follow Germany’s lead by requiring travellers from the UK to quarantine.
But Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya confirmed tonight the country would snub Angela Merkel by continuing to let British tourists into the country without forcing them to quarantine.
She said at a press conference with her Panamanian counterpart Erika Mouynes after their meeting in Madrid: ‘At the moment we are maintaining the measures which enable British citizens to enter our territory.’
Spain’s defiant stance comes after the German president said in summit at Brussels: ‘I will lobby for a more co-ordinated approach, particularly with regard to entries from regions where virus variants abound.’
French president Emmanuel Macron echoed her hard line, saying: ‘We must all be vigilant because the much-talked-about Delta variant is coming, which spreads much more rapidly than the other variants and affects people who are not vaccinated or who only have had one dose.
‘For me, one of the issues of discussion is to be really taking co-ordinated decisions in terms of opening of borders to third countries and on recognising vaccines because at this stage we have to limit this to the vaccines that have been approved by the European medical authority.’
Environment Secretary George Eustice condemned the Franco-German stance. ‘I’m not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80 per cent having had one jab and now 60 per cent having had the second jab,’ he told LBC radio.
‘I don’t think such a move would be justified but obviously it’s for individual countries to make these judgments.’
Spain indicated it will fight any Franco-German attempt to get the rest of Europe to introduce quarantine for British holidaymakers.
Meanwhile, on a visit to Aldershot, Mr Johnson dodged directly criticising Mrs Merkel’s comments, saying: ‘Let’s see where we get to with all this.
‘I think that the real opportunity we all have now is to open up travel through the double jab. We’ve got more than 60 per cent of our population have now had two jabs, 83 per cent have had one jab, we’re really getting through it now.
‘I’m not going to claim that this summer, for travel purposes, is going to be like any other summer. I don’t want to cast a pall over things but, as I said the other day, it will be different.’
Angela Merkel (pictured with Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit) has called on other European countries to force UK travellers to quarantine on arrival
On a visit to Aldershot, Boris Johnson sidestepped on Angela Merkel’s comments about making Britons quarantine but said the ‘real opportunity’ was to open up travel to people who have had two vaccination doses
Portuguese PM Antonio Costa admitted earlier his country would bow down to whatever EU leaders decided ahead of a European Council meeting.
Asked by a Portuguese journalist if Lisbon would consider making Brits quarantine, he replied: ‘If that was the wish of the Council, yes.
‘The United Kingdom shouldn’t have any different treatment.’
But Spain’s Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto appeared to put her country on a collision course with the likes of Merkel and Macron by insisting before the UK’s new traffic light announcement: ‘Hopefully we can begin to receive British tourists soon.’
Speaking at an event organised by leading Spanish newspaper El Pais, she said: ‘We don’t have any restrictions on tourists from the UK at the moment.
‘They’re the ones who are placing restrictions on people when they return.’
More than five million Brits visit Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca in a normal year.
Scientists had earlier signed off on declaring the Balearics safe enough for the green list, though there were fears that the Government could overrule the experts and keep them on the amber list.
Earlier, Tory MP Henry Smith, chairman of the Future of Aviation Group, said some of the countries should have already been on the green list.
He said: ‘Frankly, these destinations should already be on the green list along with many others.
‘It is a nonsense that people are not able to travel freely to countries that have lower rates of infection than we do.’
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘It’s now or never if we are to have any sort of summer season and the data shows this can be done safely and proportionately with many more countries being added to the list.
‘The future of our aviation industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports depends on it.’
Culture minister John Whittingdale hinted at positive news yesterday, saying: ‘Hopefully it will be possible to increase that number’ of countries on the green list.
Green list status is only allocated to destinations that can show they have low Covid rates and no significant problems with variants of concern.
They also have to show that they can monitor for new variants.
Government scientists advised last month that Malta could be added to the green list, only to be overruled by ministers led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Latest figures suggest infection rates on the island are less than half those in the UK.
Meanwhile, Berlin has banned travellers from Britain entering unless they are a German citizen, have residency rights or if there is an ‘urgent humanitarian reason’ like a family death.
But those allowed in still have to register to get permission to visit and quarantine for two weeks with no option for early release after a negative test.
It comes after Italy reintroduced quarantine and testing requirements for all UK arrivals amid growing concerns in Europe about the spread of the Indian, or Delta, variant, now dominant in the UK.
Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday that Italy will require all travellers from Britain to quarantine for five days upon arrival.
A negative test is required at the end of the five-day period. America currently still bans UK tourists amid the surge in Delta cases.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious diseases expert, last week suggested that UK-US travel would only reopen in September as a result.
Portugal, Spain and Greece are still allowing UK holidaymakers to visit with proof of a negative test and no quarantine.
France is also allowing in fully vaccinated Britons with a negative test.
But European health officials say further action is needed to curb the spread of the Delta variant as it gains a hold on the Continent.
This month it accounted for 70 per cent of sequenced cases in the greater Lisbon region of Portugal, more than 20 per cent in Italy and about 16 per cent in Belgium. It has also been detected in clusters in Germany, France and Spain.
Ahead of Mr Shapps’ green list update, some Britons took to social media to announce they had decided to buy tickets abroad anyway.
Hopeful tourists over the past few days revealed their plans for some summer sun abroad, with return flight prices as cheap as £21 for Malta and Ibiza and £26 to Mallorca over the next few months.
Even last-minute holidays will not break the bank, with Saturday-Saturday returns from July 3 to July 10 available through price comparison website Skyscanner for £87 to Ibiza, £120 to Mallorca and £147 to Valletta.
And one British tourist from Manchester, @speckysi, tweeted: ‘It’s Russian roulette time again, I’ve now booked Malta for next week – there’s next to nothing cases and zero deaths. All I want is one week in the sun.’
Another, Tristan Dawson from Essex, tweeted that he had ‘just booked Mallorca’ and was ‘determined to have a holiday’ – while a third, Adam Courtney, said he had ‘gambled and booked’ a trip to Malta on Tuesday.