Aer Lingus cancelled some European flights as Covid curbs continued to disrupt travellers’ plans.

Outright bans on some travellers and demands that passengers show negative test results to enter many countries hit Christmas holiday plans this year.

Aer Lingus confirmed it had cancelled five European round trips, four on Monday, December 27th, and one on Tuesday, December 28th, following challenges to available resources.

The flights hit on Monday were from Dublin to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Munich and Paris return. The airline has cancelled a Dublin-Paris return flight on Tuesday.

The carrier said it was providing customers with alternatives to cancelled flights on the same day in a bid to minimise disruption.

“Aer Lingus is communicating directly with impacted customers to advise them of their options, including alternative travel arrangements,” said a statement.

“Like other airlines and industries globally, Aer Lingus continues to monitor and respond to this fluid situation,” the airline added.

Christmas flights

Meanwhile, figures show that Government Covid curbs failed to dent the number of Christmas flights in the Republic, but fewer people than expected may have travelled this year.

EU figures show that the Republic hosted 1,000 flights between Christmas Eve and St Stephen’s Day this year, in line with the pattern ahead of the holiday.

According to air traffic control body Eurocontrol, 551 aircraft flew in and out of the State on December 26th, while 449 landed and departed on Christmas Eve.

The St Stephen’s Day’s total was 73 per cent of the 749 flights in and out of the State on the same day in 2019, the year before the pandemic disrupted air travel globally.

The number of flights on Christmas Eve was 57 per cent of the 790 total reached on the same day in 2019, Eurocontrol figures show.

Air travel in the Republic has been trailing 2019 levels by about 30 per cent in recent weeks.

European flights on St Stephen’s Day were 85 per cent of the total reached on the same day in 2019.

The figures show that 20,131 aircraft took off and landed on St Stephen’s Day in Europe this year, compared with almost 25,600 for the same day in 2019.

Initial soundings indicate that the number of people not turning up for their flights was higher than usual this Christmas.

Testing problems

Aer Lingus and Ryanair both said advance bookings for Christmas were good in the weeks before Covid’s Omicron strain emerged.

Caution in the face of the more transmissible strain and difficulty in getting tests needed to fly to many jurisdictions are thought to be some of the factors behind the no-shows.

Both Irish airlines continue to waive fees normally imposed on passengers who change bookings, although the carriers do charge for the difference in fares where this applies.

Days before Christmas Ryanair said it expected to fly between nine million and 9½ million passengers in December.

The airline had originally forecast that passenger numbers would be 10 million-11 million.

Ryanair did not comment on Christmas passenger trends on Monday. The airline is due to publish passenger numbers for December early next week.

Extra Irish restrictions imposed this month demand that incoming passengers show negative test results.

Vaccinated travellers must show negative results from antigen tests taken up to 48 hours before arrival.

Those who are not inoculated must show negative results from PCR tests taken up to 72 hours before arrival.

Flights in the United States have also been impacted by Covid. At least 2,400 flights in the US were cancelled on Monday as the Omicron variant continued to thin flight crews.

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