UK travel ban: Passengers stranded over flight cancellations
Flights scheduled to operate on Sunday and other days have been cancelled and rescheduled following UK’s travel ban, leaving several passengers stranded.
A British Airways (BA) flight meant to fly on Sunday morning was rescheduled.
Although BA will still operate its Abuja flights its Lagos-London flights for Sunday and Monday have been rescheduled.
BusinessDay’s checks show that BA flights from London that should have left Saturday night also did not operate but was reschedulled to leave on Sunday morning.
“We would like to inform you of a change to the departure time of your flight to London Heathrow. Due to operational reasons, we have had to make this adjustment to our schedule. Your flight will now be departing Lagos a day later than originally scheduled,” BA stated in a mail to its customers on Sunday.
On Saturday, the UK Government said Nigeria has been added to the countries on its red list due to the discovery of COVID-19 Omicron cases linked to Nigeria.
The decision was announced in a tweet by the UK on Saturday.
According to the new protocol, non-UK and non-Irish citizens who are travelling in from Nigeria will not be allowed entry into the UK.
Although the ban is described as temporary, the UK said the new protocol does not apply to persons ‘staying airside and only transiting through.’
Passengers scheduled to travel with BA on Sunday who showed up at the airport were informed that the flights will no longer operate.
Sindy Foster, principal managing partner, Avaero Capital Partners told BusinessDay that BA rescheduled its flight and will still operate since UK and Irish nationals and residents can still travel to the UK.
Foster explained that a lot of Nigerians also hold British and Irish passports so they will be subject to the same rules.
She said the need to quarantine even for fully vaccinated passengers, in a government facility, is a big deterrent to travel to the UK. Both in terms of time, comfort and cost.
“Travelling to Nigeria whilst it is currently still possible from the UK, now attracts the risk of quarantine on the return. So it will likely reduce visits to Nigeria for all but essential travel. The existing protocol is due to be reviewed on 20th December,” Foster said.
Speaking on how the new variant has affected travel, she said Omicron has definitely affected the recovery of the travel and hospitality sectors.
“The new variant has reintroduced fear of the unknown into decision making. This came at the wrong time when people had started to gain confidence to travel.
“Now we are back to red lists and cancelled plans again. So it will definitely delay the recovery which we had started to see in international travel,” she said.
Susan Akporiaye, president, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) told BusinessDay that while other airlines haven’t cancelled yet, individuals are cancelling their trips.
“UK government did not stop airlines from going to the UK. Even the UK and Irish citizens who will travel will quarantine at a government facility. What will happen is that airlines will stop going there because it won’t make economic sense, as 2,300 pounds is a lot of money for an average passenger to pay to quarantine,” Akporiaye said.
She said the new ban is affecting travel agents and airlines as individuals are already requesting that tickets already issued be cancelled pending when the UK lifts the ban.