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

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 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.”

Two key meetings are happening in France this morning, at which it is hoped restrictions may be eased: one for the defence council, following by another with the council of ministers.

Follow the latest updates below:

Key points

  • France expected to ease travel restrictions
  • UK travel company selling French ski holidays for next week
  • Visitors will need proof of booster jab to access French venues

Show latest update


Japan extends travel ban until end of February

Japan will keep its blanket travel ban on foreign nationals until the end of February, the Japanese prime minister said on Tuesday.

“The infection situations regarding Omicron are clearly different at home from abroad, so the framework (of the current border controls) will be maintained until the end of February,” Fumio Kishida told reporters.

“Because of the strictest border restrictions among the Group of Seven nations, we have been able to minimize the influx of the Omicron variant and buy time to prepare for a surge in domestic cases.”

Lucy Thackray12 January 2022 11:38


World’s most powerful passports revealed

The world’s most powerful passports have been revealed in a new ranking.

Japan and Singapore jointly claim the top spot in the latest iteration of the Henley Passport Index, released by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.

The report scores 199 countries’ passports on how many destinations holders can visit without needing to secure a visa in advance.

Japanese and Singaporean passport holders can, in theory, access 192 nations apiece visa-free, or by getting a visa on arrival.

Helen Coffey12 January 2022 11:06


Transport for London warns Tube will be “very busy” due to Northern Line closure

Three days ahead of a four-month closure of a key stretch of the Northern Line, Transport for London (TfL) is warning: “Many stations in central London will be very busy.

“Travel to the City of London and Canary Wharf is likely to be affected.”

The closure from 15 January to mid-May is “to address long-standing capacity issues at the station and make journeys through Bank easier, quicker and more comfortable”.

No trains will run between Moorgate – serving the north of the City of London – and Kennington in south London, where it rejoins the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line.

The key National Rail termini of King’s Cross, St Pancras and London Bridge will lose their connections with the City, as well as Angel station serving Islington.

The closure will not directly affect other routes through Bank Station – the Central Line, Waterloo and City Line and the Docklands Light Railway – though passengers will not be able to connect.

“If possible, travel at quieter times,” TfL says.

Simon Calder12 January 2022 10:44


Ryanair claims to be a ‘Ghostbuster’ and demands seats on empty flights are sold at low fares

After the Lufthansa Group revealed that it would operate 18,000 empty flights this winter purely to hang on to airport slots, arch-rival Ryanair has demanded that seats on these so-called “ghost flights” are sold at low fares.

Under “use it or lose it” rules, airlines must give up rights to take off and land if they are not sufficiently utilised.

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “The solution to Lufthansa’s ‘ghost flights’ problem is a simple one – just sell these seats to consumers.

“If Lufthansa really needs to operate these flights, solely to prevent the release of these slots to competitor airlines, then they should be required to sell these seats to the public at low fares.

“Slots are the way it blocks competition and limits choice at big hub airports like Frankfurt, Brussels Zaventem, Vienna, among others.

“Ryanair again calls on the European Commission to force Lufthansa and other state-subsidised airlines to release slots that they do not wish to use, so that low-fare ‘Ghostbusters’ like Ryanair, among others, can offer choice, competition, and lower fares at these hub airports.”

Simon Calder12 January 2022 10:31


Train cancellations due to Omicron rise

Faced with staff shortages due to workers self-isolating, train operators are cancelling increasingly many services.
TransPennine Express, which is already running a reduced timetable, has today cancelled or curtailed a further 18 trains.

Six of the cancellations are on the core route from Liverpool via Manchester, Leeds and York to Newcastle. Others are from York to Manchester Airport and to Scarborough.

“Further short-notice cancellations and amendments to services are likely throughout the day,” the operator warns.

Many other rail firms are running reduced services in line with the slump in passenger demand.

Simon Calder12 January 2022 10:25


Last-minute bookings beating summer holidays

Holiday bookings have risen steeply since last weekend, when expensive and onerous UK testing rules introduced because of the Omicron variant of coronavirus were eased.

But almost one-third of travel agent sales are for trips within the next four weeks, while just 7 per cent are for holidays in July and August respectively.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, told The Independent: “Confidence to book to travel within the next few weeks is growing, with around 30 per cent of all sales for travel within the next four weeks.”

Simon Calder12 January 2022 10:13


Sharp increases in Covid cases as Omicron surge continues

“The last 24 hours saw the most positive tests ever seen around the world,” says Tim White, the Covid data analyst who tweets as @TWMCLtd.

He writes: “2.81m people confirmed to have contracted the disease yesterday.

“Norway confirms 9,622 new Covid-19 cases, beating the previous high set six days ago by 1,237.

“Bulgaria also hitting unwanted new heights in terms of Covid-19 infections: 7,062 cases, 13 per cent higher than last Wednesday.”

For the US, Mr White estimates “a 20 per cent chance the all time record will be broken tonight”.

With seven states left to report, there were more than 670,000 new cases overnight.

“Meanwhile it looks like CDC [the US health regulator] will either mandate or recommend use of medical masks,” he writes.

Simon Calder12 January 2022 10:06


UK companies selling French ski holidays for next week

Twenty-five days after France abruptly closed its frontiers to British visitors, anticipation is growing that the travel ban on the UK will soon end. One ski operator is so confident that it is selling winter sports trips for the coming weekend.

The south-east London firm 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.”

It is selling one-week holidays to Tignes in the French Alps departing from London Heathrow on Saturday for £799, including flights, transfers and fully catered accommodation.

“If the announcement is made as we expect, you will be one of the few lucky skiers in France this weekend,” the company says.

Skiline promises: “If no announcement is made this Wednesday, we will refund your credit card before this Friday.”

Simon Calder12 January 2022 09:55


Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog. We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates throughout the day.

Helen Coffey12 January 2022 09:54

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