A pending decision by the UK government to create “air bridges” with selected European Union and other countries is expected to especially benefit such popular and high-profile tourist resort areas as the Costa Blanca.
With Spain now having re-opened for international travel – under certain strict health and safety conditions – Alicante-Elche Airport is once again set to play a key role in drawing tourists back to the country, including the traditionally significant proportion of visitors from the UK.
Registering annual passenger traffic of over 12 million (at least during a normal year), the international airport is one of mainland Spain’s main gateways for European flights. It is also conveniently located for travellers heading off to nearby Costa Blanca areas, such as Benidorm, Calpe, Denia, Javea and Torrevieja.
Restrictions on non-essential travel are due to be relaxed in the UK from 6 July, and the government is reportedly planning to establish a list of air bridge (or travel corridor) countries which will enable people to travel in both directions without having to go into quarantine on arrival or on their return.
Spain is one of the countries most likely to be included, as part of a “traffic light system” classifying them (green, amber or red) according to the prevalence of coronavirus.
In recent weeks, Spain has lifted its 98-day “State of Alarm” and eased restrictions on travel, but is still insisting that people maintain social distancing (one and a half metres), and also wear a mask (when distancing isn’t possible) outdoors in public areas – and always when indoors in commercial outlets, offices and other enclosed establishments.
Strict enforcement of the three-month lockdown enabled Spain to drastically reduce the number of daily infections while simultaneously consolidating its health amenities in the event of a possible second outbreak.
With borders now reopened to overseas travellers, Spain – which in 2019 was the second most visited country in the world (after France) – is once again near the top of of many people’s holiday wish-lists.
Travel services in the UK report sharp rises in booking numbers, especially for such timelessly popular areas as the Costa Blanca.
The UK move for air bridges follows the European Union’s decision to re-open its borders to citizens from 15 non-EU countries considered to be “safe travel destinations” (including Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco and New Zealand) – as well as the UK, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are all automatically deemed to be “safe”.
Specific operational changes implemented at Alicante-Elche Airport “to meet the needs created by the COVID-19 health emergency and the decline in demand” include:
- Check-ins limited to certain desks, and boarding in the main building only.
- Pharmacy and tobacconist already open (plus vending machine services) with other establishments due to open this week.
- VIP Lounge closed (the airport is working on enabling a provisional room) and Meet & Assist service suspended, but Fast Lane service available.
- General P1 and First Class car parks open but Long Stay car park still closed.
- Car rental companies attending customers at offices in the car park and arrivals hall.
- Public transport to/from the airport subject to alterations to normal services – bus passenger collection on Floor -2 (Basement Floor 2).
- Lost property service operational.
- Luggage trolley service available, but babies’ stroller service temporarily suspended.
- Information desk operational during flight times.
- Meeting point to pick up passengers located on Floor -2 (Basement Floor 2) in central area outside terminal building.
Aena (the airport authority) has set up a series of measures and protocols to guarantee safe passage through the airport. The use of a mask is compulsory for indoor public spaces, and outdoors when impossible to keep the obligatory safety distance (one and a half metres). Only passengers and people accompanying a passenger who needs assistance can access the terminal building.
Passengers arriving from third countries must bring a Passenger Location Card provided by the airline, and go through Border Health Care’s temperature check with thermographic cameras.
Check out live flight information for Alicante-Elche Airport here.