British expats still trapped by lockdowns and airline chaos

Published:  17 Mar at 6 PM
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British expats desperate to get back to their businesses or retirement havens in the sun are being stymied by cancelled flights and entire country shutdowns.

Along with Europe’s tourism industry, the aviation sector is facing its worst challenge since the 2008 financial crisis, with many believing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will eventually cause financial ruin for other expat SME sectors as well as unprepared larger companies. Governments are now being urged to provide financial relief as well as other urgent measures to save jobs as well as entire corporations.

The aviation industry is expected to be the worst hit, with the three global alliances, One World, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, calling on all governments to reduce taxes, landing fees and the regulations regarding slot allocation at airports. The three alliances represent some 60 major international airlines hit hard by the worldwide lockdowns trapping business travellers, tourists and expats in destinations worldwide and disallowing them from getting to their home countries by any means.

One retired British expat couple were lucky to have grabbed the last two seats on an EasyJet flight from London Stansted to Malaga just before Spain announced its border closure, The couple told the British media Spain is their home and they’re still scared but are relieved they’d got their flight as they’d read that most world airlines were staring bankruptcy in the face. The Spanish lockdown saw aviation chaos in the air as well as on the ground, with planes already in the air forced to turn back mid-flight as the deadlines hit in.

A statement from the controversial Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the company was contacting all those affected via email, adding repatriation flights are being organised for all passengers including those in countries which now have travel bans. Even British Airways is warning it may not survive the crisis should it continue, adding that pan-government backing may be needed to prevent the worst scenario. In the meantime, it seems all expats and tourists caught up in the chaos can do is cross their fingers and hope for a miracle.
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