Why So Many Flights Between Spain and the UK Are Being Cancelled: Could Yours Be Next?

Whether you’re a Briton living in Spain, hoping to buy property in the country, or just ready for a holiday in the sun, you’re no doubt aware of the many flight cancellations that continue to be announced between the UK and Spain. As a result of ongoing travel restrictions, Spain continuing to be both on the UK’s ‘amber list’, and the UK’s Foreign Office advising against all but essential travel to the country, many British airlines and tour operators feel they have had no choice but to cancel flights.

Here’s everything we know about why these flights are being cancelled, and when normal travel between the two countries might resume again:

Current Airline Cancellations

When assessing whether you can visit a country, there are several factors that come into play: the position of the travel list, the position of the foreign office, and whether the country you want to visit is open for your arrival. Spain has been open to travelers from the UK since 24th May, and there is no need to quarantine or present a negative coronavirus test on your arrival. Spain is on the UK’s amber list: this doesn’t mean travelers can’t visit Spain, it simply dictates how they must behave on their return to the UK. Arrivals from amber list countries must quarantine at home for 10 days, and take two PRC tests on day two and day eight of their arrival back into the country. The position of the Foreign Office, however, is what is leading many airlines to cancel their flights: if the foreign office advise against ‘all but essential travel’ then this invalidates many travel insurance policies a tourist may have, and makes a country very difficult to visit.  As a result:

  • TUI have cancelled almost all of their routes to Spain until mid-July.
  • EasyJet have cancelled hundreds of flights to Spain throughout both July and August
  • Jet2Holidays have cancelled all of their international flights until 1st Juky
  • British Airways have cancelled a significant number of their flights to Spain

These frustrating cancellations aren’t just affecting Britons hoping to visit Spain (or indeed, Spaniards in the UK hoping to get home to Spain). The flight cancellations are happening both ways, with many flights from Spain to the UK being cancelled too.

Why Are Flights Between Spain and the UK Being Cancelled?

The trigger for many of these cancelled flights was the UK’s decision to push back what has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ (the day when all remaining Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted in the country) back by 4 weeks, to 19th July. This led many holiday providers to follow the government’s lead and delay their own reopening by the same four-week window. As a result of this, and the traffic light system being in place, demand for flights between the two countries has also dropped considerably.

When asked about the cancellations, a representative from TUI stated that: “As it currently stands, the travel advice from the FCDO hasn’t changed for Spain and it is still against travel advice to go there, which is separate from the amber list. We’re therefore not sending anyone to Spain until that changes, apart from the Canaries (which FCDO allows). We constantly review our holiday programme and cancellations in line with the government updates every three weeks”.

What Should I Do if I Want or Need to Travel Between the UK and Spain this Summer?

The travel industry is sadly one that remains surrounded by uncertainty, though many in the UK are hoping for positive updates on the nation’s travel requirements this week. TUI have addressed this by saying: “We know some customers may be unsure about travelling this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone due to travel before the end of August”. Easyjet and Wizz Air are also offering their customers the opportunity to rebook their flights, get future flight-credit, or request a refund.

You could consider the following advice:

  • Book both your inbound and outbound flight with the same company, to offer you better protection if one of your flights is cancelled
  • Book your flights into Gibraltar, which is on the UK’s Green list, and then travel into Spain from there. You will still need to follow amber list regulations on return to the UK, but your flight is less likely to be cancelled.
  • Book your flight for after mid-July. The tourism industry between the UK and Spain is expected to improve at this point, and it is less likely that you will experience flight cancellations

What Happens Next?

On 24th June the UK government will conduct their next travel review, with more countries expected to be added to the ‘green list’ at this stage. If Spain is added to the ‘green list’ then the situation will change fast, with holiday providers ramping up their flight numbers to take advantage of the situation. Toni Mayor, head of the Hosbec association of Valencia region hoteliers told The Telegraph that he did not expect to see the bulk of UK tourism to Spain take off until August, which could mean there might still be flight cancellations up until then. But at this point, all we can do is wait and see.

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