EasyJet said it will operate larger planes and additional flights to bring British vacationers back from Portugal before quarantine rules go into effect on Tuesday.
People entering the UK from Portugal after 4 a.m. on Tuesday will have to self-isolate at home for 10 days after the government moved them from the green list to the yellow list.
Vacationers tried to fly home from Portugal before the new quarantine regulations came into force.
More than 1,000 additional seats have been added on the Faro to Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Bristol routes, according to EasyJet.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of EasyJet, said: “We know firsthand from our customers what a blow this sudden decision to put Portugal on the Amber List is.
“With many UK tourists currently in Portugal, our priority is to help customers who have to return before the Tuesday deadline.
“We are offering over 1,000 additional seats from Portugal to the UK by flying larger planes on flights and adding some extra flights if necessary.
“And for customers who need assistance with test requirements, we are working with approved test partner Collinson to support customers in Portugal who need to arrange new tests.”
Airline prices for airlines have soared since the announcement.
A seat on a Ryanair flight from the capital Lisbon to Manchester costs £ 339 on Monday, while the same route is available for just £ 75 on Wednesday.
British Airways is charging £ 348 for flights from Faro to London Heathrow on Sunday and Monday, but the price will drop to £ 137 on Tuesday.
The airline said it would operate more flights to meet demand for returnees.
Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, said it had 9,500 customers in Portugal, but due to the end of the semester for school children, that should have dropped to 2,000 by Tuesday.
A spokeswoman told the PA news agency that half of their customers with Portugal bookings for June have changed their trip – mostly through summer 2022 – while the other half plan to continue despite the quarantine rules.
“There’s a lot of confusion and real frustration and confusion about what’s going on,” she added.
The company allows consumers to change dates in response to Portugal’s move to the yellow list but does not offer refunds as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Bureau is not advising against travel to the country.
A Portuguese epidemiologist claimed the decision to move Portugal to the amber stage was “an overreaction”.
Professor Henrique Barros, President of Portugal’s National Health Council, said the country’s overall coronavirus situation was “relatively stable”.
He made the comments after community secretary Robert Jenrick said positive cases had doubled in Portugal in the past three weeks.
Prof. Barros told Sky News: “We haven’t seen such an increase, except as I said in a specific area around Lisbon.
“The overall picture in the country, we have not achieved such numbers.”
The decision to put Portugal on the yellow list means people returning to the UK from there will have to self-isolate at home for 10 days.
“I think it’s an overreaction,” said Prof. Barros.
The health chief stated that the increase in infections was mainly among people under 40 years of age, while there was a “very low incidence” among those over 50 years of age.
He stressed that hospital admissions are currently “very low” at less than 25 people per million.
The country’s officials “are paying close attention to monitoring the virus,” he added.
Mr Jenrick admitted the situation was “frustrating” for travelers but insisted the government was “clear” that the classification of countries on the green list could change.
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“These countries are reviewed every three weeks, so if the situation changed rapidly with new variants, there was always the risk that countries would either be added to that list or actually removed,” he told Sky News.
The cabinet minister said Portugal’s move to the amber tier was due in part to “mounting evidence of another mutation known as the Nepalese variant”.
He revealed that “we do not yet know how big the problem is” but stressed that “it is important that we proceed carefully”.