Travel news live: France expected to lift UK travel ban imminently

Expectations are building that France may imminently announce it is lifting the blanket ban on British travellers.

Speculation, already rife, was further fuelled last night when French politician Alexandre Holroyd tweeted: “Following numerous discussions with the Government, considerable reductions in health measures at the borders will be announced very soon.

“More details here in the coming days.”

The cryptic tweet followed several holiday companies telling customers they believed the French ban on all Brits, barring those with a handful of “compelling” reasons for travel, was about to be scrapped.

London firm Skiline.co.uk has sent out a marketing email saying: “We are expecting the French government to make an announcement this Wednesday to confirm that British vaccinated skiers can enter France from this Saturday 15 January.”

However, it now appears unlikely that an update will happen today, with French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal only confirming that an announcement will be made “by the end of the week”.

Follow the latest updates below:

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Mexico suffers flight cancellations amid Omicron wave

Mexico City is the latest destination to suffer from a wave of flight cancellations, due to staff absences amid the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Mexico City International Airport (AICM) axed 235 flights in five days from 6-9 January, reported La Jornada.

Of those, local carrier Aeromexico cancelled the most at 210 flights; Aeromar axed 21; Long live Aerobus cancelled two; and Volaris just one.

In a statement, AICM Airport appealed to customers “to understand that the pandemic affects all activities and that we are doing our best to keep the airport operating.

“Your collaboration is very important to reduce risks. Please, heed the indications of the airline and airport personnel and confirm the status of your flight through the respective official channels.”

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Lucy Thackray12 January 2022 18:07

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Meat cleavers, bullets and ‘meth burrito’ all found in US luggage

The US’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released a video of its “top 10 catches” of 2021 – the weirdest or most outlandish items found in American passengers’ luggage.

Items include a number of guns, bullets packed into a roll-on deodorant, a meat cleaver and a “meth burrito”.

Fireworks, bear spray and a chainsaw also made the list.

The TSA was established in November 2001, shortly after 9/11, and is responsible for air travel security and passenger screening across the US.

Lucy Thackray12 January 2022 17:27

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Meat cleavers, bullets and ‘meth burrito’ all found in US luggage

The US’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released a video of its “top 10 catches” of 2021 – the weirdest or most outlandish items found in American passengers’ luggage.

Items include a number of guns, bullets packed into a roll-on deodorant, a meat cleaver and a “meth burrito”.

Fireworks, bear spray and a chainsaw also made the list.

The TSA was established in November 2001, shortly after 9/11, and is responsible for air travel security and passenger screening across the US.

Lucy Thackray12 January 2022 17:27

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Miami best US city break, says research

To rank the cities, Bounce rated US cities on criteria including affordability, the number of things to do, average hotel price, weather, and how long it takes to get from the airport into the city centre.

Florida’s culture capital Miami came out on top with a score of 7.13 out of 10 thanks to its sunny climate and largely affordable hotel scene (the average hotel price for a weekend night came out at $164).

It was closely followed by San Francisco, which scored 7.07; while in third place was Boston, which scored 5.54.

Denver was ranked the worst city break destination, coming out with a score of 3.19 for its low number of attractions and green spaces, and long airport transfer time.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Lucy Thackray12 January 2022 16:52

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Scotland confirms £9m package for domestic tourism

Scotland has confirmed a £9m financial package for domestic tourism, to combat the effects of the Omicron variant on the country’s travel industry.

The money will be distributed by VisitScotland to businesses in the domestic tourism sector, reports Travel Weekly.

However, there will be no financial aid for travel businesses focusing on outbound travel from Scotland.

“We recognise that the public health measures necessary to limit the spread of Omicron have had a severe economic impact, especially for affected businesses in the hard hit tourism sector,” says tourism minister Ivan McKee.

“We have now allocated up to £9 million to help ease the impacts of the pandemic on Scotland’s world-class tourism sector and ensure that affected businesses can survive what is clearly an especially tough winter period and be ready to trade fully in the spring and summer months.

“We know this won’t cover all losses and will continue to press the UK government for more comprehensive support.”

Lucy Thackray12 January 2022 16:22

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Reduced train services on South Western Railway

Rail travellers who rely on South Western Railway (SWR) face significantly reduced services from Monday 17 January.

The train operator that serves the UK’s busiest railway station, London Waterloo, has just announced “a new temporary timetable, which will continue to ensure reliability for our customers and cater to key workers, school pupils and those who cannot work from home”.

The firm says: “The spread of Omicron has necessitated the need for a new timetable, with staff shortages across SWR leading to short notice cancellations.”

But SWR has been much less affected than other operators by absent train crew. It appears more of a cost-saving move that reflects the collapse in passenger numbers since the latest “working from home” advice was announced.

Main line services from Waterloo to Weymouth will split from 10 cars to five at Bournemouth, while Exeter trains will do the same at Salisbury.

Waterloo to Alton trains will be halved to hourly, along with services on the Shepperton branch.

In addition, SWR warns: “The last train of each day will be earlier than at present.”

Simon Calder12 January 2022 16:02

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World Health Organization says travel bans are ineffective

After the French government said borders will remain closed to British travellers for a while longer, you might be interested in the view on travel bans from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Bluntly, the UN body does not believe they do much good. On 30 November 2021, as concern grew about the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the body said:

“Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.

“In addition, they can adversely impact global health efforts during a pandemic by disincentivising countries to report and share epidemiological and sequencing data.”

Simon Calder12 January 2022 15:14

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French government confirms travel announcement to be made by ‘end of week’

A French government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, has confirmed that the current travel ban on arrivals from the UK is soon to be lifted – but has given no clue as to when it will be announced nor what the requirements will be.

After the latest meeting of the Conseil de Défense et Securité in Paris, M Attal said only that an announcement on easing restrictions will be made by the “end of the week”.

The news will disappoint many prospective travellers who were hoping an announcement would be made today, clearing the way for holidays and family trips to resume by the weekend. This now appears unlikely.

Simon Calder12 January 2022 14:48

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British Airways launches new routes from London City

Barcelona, Luxembourg and Thessaloniki will get flights from London City airport this summer, on the British Airways CityFlyer subsidiary.

The links will be operated by Embraer E190 aircraft regional jets – which are popular among travellers because they have 2 x 2 seating.

The Luxembourg link begins on 27 March, with several services each day. The Barcelona route commences on 19 June with flights daily except Saturday.

Thessaloniki is an odd one out because the weekly flight will go out on Saturday afternoons from 18 June and come back early on Sunday morning. The crew and aircraft will stay overnight in the northern Greek city. The current curfew at London City forbids take-offs and landings between 1pm on Saturday and 12.30pm on Sunday, to give local residents respite.

In addition, flights are starting to Milan’s Malpensa airport (replacing Linate, which is closer to the centre). Routes to Jersey and Guernsey are also returning, on Mondays and Fridays from 20 June to 2 September.

Tom Stoddart, managing director of BA CityFlyer, which will operate the new services, said: “As customers start to plan their next summer getaway, we wanted to offer new routes to some of the most popular European destinations.”

(Simon Calder)

Simon Calder12 January 2022 14:22

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French announcement expected by ‘end of the week’

Although speculation was rife that the French government would make an announcement regarding the lifting of the UK travel ban today, the latest reports suggest it might not happen until later in the week.

Times travel correspondent Ben Clatworthy tweeted: “Now hearing no decision on France border measures today but by end of the week…”.

Anxious travellers are awaiting the news to see whether planned trips can go ahead.

“Oh no. Booked for Sunday,” commented Twitter user Jeff Whitton.

Helen Coffey12 January 2022 13:59

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