Cost of flying to 'green list' Portugal plummets by 76%

Summer holiday price DROP: Cost of flying to ‘green list’ Portugal plummets by 76% from £282 to £67 despite soaring demand after Ryanair puts on 57 extra flights a week

  • Britons travelling from London to Lisbon next Monday before coming home a week later can get a £67 return  
  • This is 76% down on cheapest return before ‘green list’ announcement last Friday, which was £282 with TAP
  • Flights from Stansted to Faro are now £63 for a return between May 17 and 24, while Porto is now £66 return
  • But tourists hoping to visit other ‘green list’ countries such as Israel and Gibraltar will find prices have gone up

The cost of flying to Portugal has plunged over the weekend with Ryanair putting on dozens of flights to Faro, Lisbon and Porto shortly after the country was cleared three days ago for quarantine-free trips from May 17.

Britons travelling from London to Lisbon next Monday before coming home a week later can get a return with Ryanair from Stansted for just £67 – with various different flights available with the airline for similar prices.

This is 76 per cent down on the cheapest return moments before the ‘green list’ announcement at 5pm last Friday, which was £282 with TAP Portugal from Heathrow – with that same flight at roughly the same price today.

Those hoping to travel to Faro for a week from next Monday can do so from Stansted for £63 with Ryanair, while the Irish budget airline is also offering returns to Porto for £66 in a bid to lure back passengers.

Ryanair is laying on 175,000 more seats to Portugal from next Monday, leaving from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. There will be 38 more flights a week from Stansted and 19 more from Manchester.

Tour guides wait for customers at Comercio square in Lisbon last July, with Portugal now set for an influx of UK holidaymakers

Ryanair is laying on 175,000 more seats to Portugal from May 17, leaving from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds

TAP Portugal planes are seen at Lisbon Airport shortly after the first coronavirus lockdown began in April last year

However tourists hoping to visit other countries on the ‘green list’ such as Israel and Gibraltar will find the lowest prices have gone up over the past few days, with Ryanair not entering the market on these routes.

Wizz Air are offering a return from Luton to Gibraltar, leaving next Monday and coming back a week later, for £138 today, which has gone up 82 per cent from £76 which was the price when checked last Friday at 4pm.

How flight prices have changed in three days

The cheapest return flight from London to the following destinations, checked on Skyscanner, is:

Lisbon (Portugal) – DOWN 76%

  • Checked at 4pm last Friday – TAP return from Heathrow – £282 (May 17 at 1845; May 24 at 1105)
  • Checked at 9am today – Ryanair return from Stansted – £67 (May 17 at 1230; May 24 at 1705) 

Tel Aviv (Israel) – UP 24%

  • Checked at 4pm last Friday – British Airways return from Heathrow – £252 (May 17 at 0800; May 24 at 1640)
  • Checked at 9am today – British Airways return from Heathrow – £313 (same times)

Gibraltar – UP 82%

  • Checked at 4pm last Friday – Wizz Air return from Luton – £76 (May 17 at 1545; May 24 at 2030)
  • Checked at 9am today – Wizz Air return from Luton – £138 (same times)

And a return flight from Heathrow to Tel Aviv with British Airways leaving next Monday and returning a week later is now £313, rising 24 per cent from £252 when checked just before the Government’s announcement last Friday.

It comes after flight comparison website Skyscanner reported a 660 per cent increase in bookings for flights from Britain to Portugal last Friday compared to the previous day.

Hugh Aitken, vice president of flights at Skyscanner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘On Friday we saw over 119 per cent increase in bookings day on day just as travellers started to respond to the green light to start international travel.

‘Portugal itself saw a well over a 660 per cent increase in bookings out of UK day on day. Very positive and a good start. The key thing is we’re certainly seeing the demand out there.

‘In general we’re seeing prices less than they were pre-pandemic. In a report we published a couple of weeks ago we said the average of prices globally are 13 per cent lower than they were before the pandemic.’ 

Also this morning, Zina Bencheikh, managing director in Europe for Intrepid Travel, which operates small group tours around the world, told BBC Radio 4: ‘We’ve seen since the start of the pandemic that people are looking forward to their next holiday – they’re being very realistic about when they can travel. 

‘However, since last week’s announcement, we’ve had interest in Iceland, Portugal and Israel over the weekend that has been quite enormous. We know there is a pent-up demand, we know that travellers want to travel, it’s just about when they will be able to do so.

‘From our perspective, prices have not gone up at all – it’s actually the opposite that has happened, and we’ve seen around the travel industry has been quite reasonable in terms of not increasing the prices.’

She added: ‘I do think that travellers need to book their holidays in advance because there are so many flexible possibilities. 

A return from Heathrow to Tel Aviv (pictured) with British Airways leaving next Monday and returning a week later is now £313

Wizz Air are offering a return from Luton to Gibraltar (pictured), leaving next Monday and coming back a week later, for £138

‘They can change last-minute, they can request for a refund as well dependent on which company they book their trip with, and I think that flexibility will give peace of mind for not worrying about prices increasing in the near future.’

Negotiations are held over playing Champions League final in Britain

‘Delicate’ negotiations are ongoing over playing the UEFA Champions League final in the UK, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said yesterday.

The match, between two English clubs, Manchester City and Chelsea, was due to be held in Istanbul in Turkey on May 29.

But Turkey was added to the UK government’s travel ban ‘red list’ on Friday, making it all but impossible for British fans to attend. It means all returning travellers, including the teams, would have to quarantine in hotels for 11 nights on return at a cost of £1,750.

Talks with organisers UEFA, football’s European governing body, have therefore been triggered.

Mr Gove told Sky News: ‘There are delicate negotiations that are going on at the moment. My friend, my colleague the culture secretary Oliver Dowden is talking to people about this at the moment, and so I don’t want to cut across that. But I’m sure that fans in the UK would dearly love to see the final played here in the UK.’

Pressed further he said: ‘I have an interest as my son is a Chelsea fan and so he would far rather it be held in the UK.’

As well as Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the UK’s red list. The change will come into effect on Wednesday at 4am. It means 43 countries will be on it. 

It comes as the backlash over the foreign holidays roadmap intensified last night as figures showed the grounding of planes has blown a £3billion hole in Treasury coffers.

The collapse in air passenger duty revenues sparked calls to speed up the reopening of foreign travel after just 12 destinations were cleared for quarantine-free trips from May 17.

Many of the destinations are remote or have very strict entry measures or blanket bans on UK tourists. 

Tourism chiefs are also furious at ministers advising travellers not to visit countries ranked ‘amber’, such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece. 

It means visitors are likely to struggle to get travel insurance, effectively putting the destinations out of bounds.

There is hope that more European hotspots will make the green list by the end of June once three-weekly reviews get under way. The first will be on June 7. 

It came as new figures showed the Treasury received just £582million in APD between April 2020 and 2021, compared with around £3.6billion annually before the pandemic.

The wider economy has taken a further hit of billions of pounds due to the shutdown of international travel.

Gloria Guevara, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said: ‘After suffering the biggest fall in contribution towards GDP from travel and tourism of the ten most important global markets – by a staggering 62.5 per cent – the UK can ill-afford to be this cautious.’

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, added: ‘The figures show just how near-complete the collapse in air traffic has been as a result of the pandemic.

‘It is disappointing that the number of nations on the green list remains extremely limited and that vaccinated people are subject to restrictions when travelling to low-risk nations. This is not the meaningful restart aviation and the UK economy need right now.’

Tory MP Henry Smith, chairman of the parliamentary all-party Future of Aviation group, said: ‘The limited green list risks holding back the restart of our aviation industry and the full restart of a truly Global Britain.

‘We need to re-open to more nations as soon as possible to allow much needed summer holidays, to restart leisure travel and to reunite families.’

The countries on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel

British second home owners with properties in Spain, France and Italy may choose to fly into Portugal and drive to them when flights open up on May 17, experts have predicted

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester and Stansted airports, said: ‘Aviation supports more than 1 million jobs and generates billions of pounds of economic value but is being held back by much tighter controls than any other industry.

Holidays to Europe via the backdoor: Brits vow to fly into ‘green list’ Portugal then drive into banned Spain, Italy and France – as experts say approved countries will confirm UK tourists can enter before May 17 

Hundreds of thousands of Britons may use a loophole to fly into ‘green list’ Portugal after May 17 before travelling over land to their second homes in Spain, France and Italy, it was revealed today.

The opening up of flights next week has seen a rush of people jetting to Faro, Porto or Lisbon and there is nothing to stop them renting a car so they can then drive into Europe, experts say.

Online flights search engine Skyscanner has said that bookings to Portugal are already up 660 per cent per day based on a week ago – and people have taken to social media to admit they are planning to use the Portugal loophole.

Travel guru Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency consultancy, told MailOnline: ‘I think you will see a big rush on flights to Portugal because there are hundreds of thousands of Britons with second homes in Spain, France and Spain. Many won’t have visited for more than a year – and will be desperate to get away from the UK. Others may want to see family abroad. They could drive across and then sit tight until the end of June when those countries are expected to go green’.

Mr Charles has also predicted that a version of the NHS’ digital vaccine passport will be up and running by May 17, while UK and Portugal Government advice warning against travel to and from Portugal will be changed ahead of the great holiday restart in a week’s time.

‘Holidaymakers travelling to and from Portugal will be viewed as a way to test how the travel system will work in Covid times before opening up to the rest of Europe, probably around June 21’, he said.

Mr Charles added that while the borders between Portugal and its European neighbours would be open, travellers would have to be aware of the local rules in their final destination, but France, Spain and Italy are all easing their lockdown in the coming weeks.

Anyone caught travelling abroad from the UK for a non-essential reason to a non-green list country could be issued with a fixed penalty fine of £5,000.

But if you have a second home, you are legally authorised to travel there from the UK if you are going to organise selling it, buying it, renting it or letting it out.

The same rules apply in Europe, where Brits are expected to argue why it is ‘vital’ to travel to those homes in a pandemic.

‘It is essential that we see meaningful progress towards restarting international travel at the first review of the green list in the next few weeks, ahead of the peak summer season.’

Unveiling the roadmap last Friday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was ‘necessarily cautious’ due to the risk of so-called variants of concern entering Britain.

It came as a fresh row broke out between Border Force, Heathrow Airport and unions over the length of queues faced by holidaymakers at the border this summer.

Passengers have waited up to seven hours in recent weeks despite arrivals being a fraction of what they were pre-pandemic.

A union official claimed this was partly because only half of passport control booths can be manned due to a lack of perspex screens installed.

Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union, said it meant guards would be breaking social distancing rules if they manned every booth.

She said: ‘The problem isn’t the number of staff. It’s that we haven’t got wrap-around perspex screens around the desks.

‘So we can only fill every other desk because the officers would be shoulder to shoulder with each other.

‘They put screens in front, so there’s a front-facing piece of perspex, but they haven’t continued that around the side. If we got in more perspex screens that would double our capacity overnight.’

But a Heathrow source rubbished the claims, saying: ‘The Perspex screen issue hasn’t been formally raised with us and is not something we are aware is an issue.’

On Friday, Border Force chief Paul Lincoln attributed longer queues to officers needing to check more paperwork, such as negative Covid certificates, with every passenger being checked manually.

This was taking up to ten minutes per passenger, he said, or up to 15 times longer than pre-pandemic. However, he pledged that more guards would be deployed to man desks for the summer.

Electronic passport gates will also be synced with passenger locator forms, which each traveller must fill out pre-departure into the UK, meaning they can be re-opened and queue times slashed.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘We cannot have a situation where we are opening up travel and getting the economy moving again and the whole thing grinds to a halt because of incompetent management at the border.

‘People simply won’t travel if they see chaos at airports on their TV screens.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘To protect public health, queues and wait times are expected to be longer as it is vital that thorough checks are undertaken at the border to prevent the importation of new Covid-19 cases into the UK.

‘Border Force officers are making use of all desks and perspex screens are in use so that the maximum number of officers can carry out checks. It is inaccurate to claim otherwise.’

At present, APD is charged in two bands. Passengers on flights to countries less than 2,000 miles away pay £13 in economy or £26 in business class.

For flights more than 2,000 miles they pay £82 and £180 respectively. 

Air passenger numbers have fallen by around 84 per cent over the last year.

Q&A: Where can I go on holiday, what is the ‘green list’ and what if I go against the Government’s guidance? 

The Government announced the green, amber and red lists for international travel last Friday. Here are the answers to 11 key questions on what this means for holidaymakers:

– Why are the lists important?

They determine the quarantine and coronavirus testing requirements people will face when returning to England once the ban on overseas leisure travel is lifted on May 17.

– Why is everyone talking about the green list?

Travellers returning from a country on that list will not be need to quarantine, and will only be required to take one post-arrival test.

– What’s on it?

It consists of Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, plus several small remote islands which are British Overseas Territories.

– So I can go on holiday to anywhere on that list?

Not quite. Entry to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands is severely restricted.

– Where can I go?

Portugal plans to welcome UK tourists who have had a recent negative test, have recovered from the virus and therefore have antibodies, or had both doses of a vaccine.

Gibraltar will not require UK visitors to be tested or vaccinated, whereas Israel will initially reopen its border on May 23 only to groups of foreign tourists who have had both jabs. None of these destinations will require arrivals to quarantine.

– What about the amber list?

That covers the most popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said ‘you should not be travelling to these places right now’

– What if I go against that guidance?

People returning from amber countries must take two post-arrival tests. They are also required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day-five.

– How about the red list?

Those returning from a red list country must stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750.

– Will the lists change?

The lists can be amended at any time, but wholesale changes are not expected to occur until the situation is reviewed at a ‘checkpoint’ on June 28.

– What about vaccine passports?

Grant Shapps confirmed that people in England will be able to demonstrate they have had both doses of a vaccine through the NHS app.

– Can people living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland go on a foreign holiday?

The devolved administrations have not set dates for the restart of overseas leisure travel, although announcements are expected in the coming days. Grant Shapps there was ‘a large degree of agreement and cooperation in developing the system’.


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