Airlines axe flights and reduce schedules with lockdown due to be extended to July 19

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Airlines are rapidly cancelling flights with the government set to delay Freedom Day back by a month.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet are shrinking their schedules between now and July 19, the date Boris Johnson is expected to ease the rest of lockdown restrictions.

Demand by Brits for foreign holidays has reportedly plummeted as a result.

So, Virgin Atlantic has pushed back transatlantic flights until mid-July, and has even cancelled many journeys from Heathrow to Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago until October.

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: "Airlines are reducing their flying schedules fast as government policies on overseas travel are putting off consumers from flying.

Ryanair passenger jets are seen on the tarmac at Dublin airport
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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"There simply isn't enough demand to fly when so many countries are on amber and swab testing is so expensive.

"We're now seeing airlines cutting their flying and staffing costs rapidly, as they ground more aircraft and return thousands of cabin crew and other staff to furlough."

Budget airline easyJet started dropping trips to Greece and France, as Britons face a second summer trapped at home.

Stobart Air, which operates regional services for Aer Lingus, this morning ceased trading due to a lack of demand.

An easyJet plane takes off as other jets wait at Geneva Airport
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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But Mr Charles told Mail Online : "The government is strangling the aviation sector even though the majority of adults in the UK have received both vaccine doses and should be given the freedom to fly.

"Why are we in a worse position than last summer when we had no vaccines?

"The government should follow America's and Europe's lead and enable fully-jabbed citizens to fly more flexibly."

It is believed Mr Johnson, 56, wants more people to get double jabbed before he ends the lockdown measures.

Passengers are pictured arriving at Heathrow Airport during the pandemic
(Image: PA)

There has also been a sharp rise in the Delta variant across the UK. Data suggests it has a 60% increased chance of spreading in homes compared to the Alpha strain, which was first detected in Kent.

Speaking to Mail Online, a Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: "We're continually reviewing our flying programme and holiday schedules and in response to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 restrictions, we have taken the difficult decision to delay the restart of some of our Caribbean services.

"These include the London Heathrow to Trinidad and Tobago service, currently assigned Red List status on the UK Government's traffic light system, which will now resume from 7 October and our London Heathrow – Havana route, now due to commence 1 October.

"As a result of ongoing travel restrictions between the UK and US, we have also pushed back the restart of some transatlantic flights to mid-July, including our London Heathrow services to Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Manchester to Orlando, Atlanta and New York-JFK. World-leading vaccination programmes in both the UK and US have created the opportunity to safely open up travel between these two low-risk countries whilst protecting public health and we urge Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden to use the G7 Summit to move the US to the UK's 'green list' and repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers to the US immediately, and no later than 4 July.

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Brits had been allowed to travel to Portugal briefly but its since been taken off the green list

"We're sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers and look forward to returning to these destinations as soon as possible.

"Where a flight is cancelled, customers can rebook their flights for a new travel date all the way until 30 April 2023, convert their booking to a travel voucher, or of course request a full cash refund.

"Any customers who made their bookings through a third party or travel agent, should contact them directly to discuss their options.

"To simplify the options and to provide immediate peace of mind for Virgin Holidays customers whose holidays are no longer going ahead as a result of a flight cancellation, we're automatically providing a digital voucher for the value of their trip, redeemable up until 30 September 2022, which they can use to rebook a new package holiday, departing any time before 30 April 2023.

"This can either be to the same destination or we can look at alternatives, as well as different times of the year. Where a holiday is cancelled, customers can also request a cash refund."

British Airways and easyJet have been approached for comment by the publication.

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