In an unprecedented rejection of government advice, Britain’s second-largest holiday company is to continue to send package travellers to parts of mainland Spain despite a Foreign Office warning.
The move by Jet2 Holidays highlights the fury in the travel industry at what is seen as another botched decision from the UK government.
With five hours’ notice, the Foreign Office warned against all but essential travel to the Spanish mainland.
At the same time, the Department for Transport told hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers already in Spain that they must all quarantine for 14 days on their return – even if they have been in the low-risk Balearics and Canary Islands.
On every previous occasion when the Foreign Office has issued a new warning against visiting a country or region, mainstream holiday firms have automatically cancelled departures to the destination on the “no-go” list.
But Jet2, based in Leeds, has decided to press on and offer package holidays to mainland Spain even though holidaymakers will be travelling uninsured; going against Foreign Office advice invalidates standard travel policies.
A Jet2 spokesperson said: “We are still operating flights and holidays to four destinations in mainland Spain (Costa de Almeria, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia), which are open and are located away from areas which have been impacted by increased cases of Covid-19.
“In light of the updated advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we are in the process of reviewing options for customers due to travel to these four destinations.”
It is likely that any holidaymaker who does not wish to go will be able to secure a full refund by citing the Package Travel Regulations. This legislation allows penalty-free cancellation if circumstances change significantly.
Abta, the travel association, says: “Such situations will usually arise where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues advice against travel to the destination.”
Some specialist operators go against Foreign Office advice to destinations such as Iraq and Yemen. But Jet2 is thought to be the first large, mainstream company to invite its customers to ignore the warning.
Paul Charles from The PC Agency, who has co-coordinated the Quash Quarantine campaign involving many travel businesses, said that the holiday company was taking risks.
“I’d never advise any company to put its own customers at risk by ignoring government advice and invalidating travel insurance,” he said.
“I hope Jet2 Holidays makes it clear to their customers that they are not covered if something goes wrong.”
Tui, which is Britain’s biggest holiday company, is offering full refunds to all its Spanish package clients booked to travel up to and including 9 August. The firm is also inviting holidaymakers who can accommodate the 14-day quarantine requirement to go ahead with planned trips to the islands.