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Government agrees plan with airlines, Spain to bring Irish tourists home

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The Tánaiste has called on Irish tourists in Spain who want to fly home to do so by midnight on Thursday after a plan was agreed with airlines and Spanish authorities.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on Sunday held talks with his Spanish counterpart as well as the chief executives of Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

Following the talks Simon Coveney TD said: “We have an orderly plan in place with Ryanair and Aer Lingus supported by the Spanish government.”

He said Spanish counterparts assured him that Spanish airports remain open and it was not bringing about a flight ban.

He said “I am calling on all Irish tourists who wish to return from Spain to do so by midnight this coming Thursday March 19th. Both airlines are allocating bigger planes to the routes in order to accommodate passengers and both airlines have waived booking and seat fees for anyone who wants to change a booking from a later flight to one in the coming days.”

Earlier Ryanair said it is to “severely reduce” flights to and from Spain, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands from midnight tonight until midnight on Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline’s move comes in response to the decision of the Spanish government to “lock down” the entire country to contain the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

“We are contacting all affected customers by email to advise them of their options and we urge customers not to call us,” a spokesman said.

“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and the safety and well-being of our people and customers is our main priority. We will continue to comply fully with all WHO [World Health Organization] and EASA [European Union Aviation Safety Agency] guidelines and we will follow any travel restrictions that are imposed.”

Aer Lingus and Ryanair have offered passengers the opportunity to change their bookings without incurring a change fee due to coronavirus.

In a tweet Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said any Irish citizen abroad and experiencing difficulties due to cancelled flights can call the @dfatirl dedicated advice centre for #COVID19 relating to travel queries +353(0)16131733.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday advised against all non-essential travel to Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

This is in addition to earlier advice warning of non-essential travel to Spain, no travel to Italy and exercising caution when going to other EU countries.

Ryanair has announced it is to cancel all its scheduled services to and from Poland from midnight on Saturday until the end of March.

The move was made in response to the decision of the Polish Government to “lock down” the entire country to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

From The Irish Times.