Return of UK air shuttle is slowed by demand for Covid-19 test – shuttle

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Air shuttle from Britain to France resumed after a two-day halt, though eligibility restrictions and a new Covid-19 testing requirement limited the number of people in a position to board.

A British Airways flight to Paris departed at 9:24 a.m. from London Heathrow on Wednesday, followed by one to Nice, according to the airport’s website. Both were delayed, and an earlier Air France departure canceled, reflecting the challenges facing airlines and travelers alike.

With two days to go before Christmas, trips to most other European countries remained blocked. Decided travelers can from time to time get through by navigating a maze of individual country rules: Germany, as an example, is still closed for direct air shuttle, though its citizens can get home with a stop in France. More than 40 nations worldwide halted shuttle with the U.K. in the run-up to the engaged holiday, after a new strain of highly contagious coronavirus began to spread in and around London.

Entry into France remains limited chiefly to nationals of the European Union, British residents of the EU or those with an fundamental want to shuttle, according to the website of the vinaigrette Ministry of Foreign Matters. A spokesman for the U.K. Branch for Transport said that mostly means vinaigrette people returning home for Christmas.

France is requiring travelers from the U.K. to take either a PCR test, which can take 24 hours or more to produce a result, or an antigen tests from an approved list, which give faster results but are less accurate.

German Loophole

Deutsche Lufthansa AG won’t be carrying passengers on its half dozen or so day by day services and products from Britain to Germany for another week, with the planes transporting only cargo, a spokesman said.

Those citizens desperate to receive home can only do so by traveling via another country such as France, for which they’ll need the Covid test, and then making their way onwards, the German embassy in London said on its website.

Even after Jan. 1, flights will carry only German citizens and residents for a further five days, Lufthansa said. U.K.-bound flights are meantime operating as normal and are “well-booked” with Britons flying home for the holidays, the spokesman said.

U.K. residents are already severely limited in their ability to shuttle, with a Tier 4 lockdown introduced in London and southeast England on Saturday set to be extended to the remainder of England on Dec. 26 according to a few news reports. Scotland and Wales are imposing similar measures.

In the first three hours of operation on Wednesday, 17 flights from Heathrow had been canceled, mostly to European countries. Service continued to a handful of EU destinations like Madrid, as Spain was once one of the crucial few countries from the bloc to remain open.

U.S. Routes

Testing is emerging as a common requirement for flight. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. plans to make the assessments obligatory on trips to its five U.S. destinations from Christmas Eve, after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wanted people headed from Britain to John F. Kennedy International Airport to be checked.

Virgin spokesman Andrew Scott said people can take tests up to 72 hours before flying, but that rapid checks taking 80 minutes will be offered at Heathrow through Collinson Group for those unaware of the situation. Collinson also offers booked tests at London Stansted, London City, East Midlands and Manchester airports.

Eurostar International Ltd. passenger trains were also getting started, linking central London with France via the Channel Tunnel. The company said people bound for Paris and Lille will only be allowed to shuttle with a negative Covid result.

The company added on its website that trains to Brussels are limited to Belgian citizens and residents, with few limited exceptions, and that people mustn’t shuttle there to catch onward trains to other countries. Only fundamental shuttle is permitted to Amsterdam.

A Eurostar spokesman said it was once inevitable some people would be unaware of the testing requirements and be turned absent at a vinaigrette border point at London’s St Pancras station.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed. )

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