North-east holidaymakers have been happy to swap grey skies for family reunions and breaks in the sun.
Ryanair’s service left Aberdeen International Airport for Alicante yesterday morning with travellers keen to land on Spain’s east coast despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was the budget airline’s first service to leave the Granite City after the resumption of their services on Wednesday.
Passengers at Aberdeen International Airport are asked to wear facial coverings while all staff are provided with PPE.
Protective screens have been installed at check-in and people at the Dyce hub are asked to keep physical distances if possible.
Mark and Nicola Angus from Peterhead are going to reunite with Nicola’s father after not seeing him for six months.
The pair work for an oil company and a council and like others have been working from home during the pandemic.
Nicola said it was the ideal time to combine a family reunion and a break in the Spanish sunshine.
She said they are also prepared for the trip with all of the necessary personal protective equipment ready to go.
Nicola said: “We are going across to see family.
“We’ve got antibacterial wipes so we can wipe all of the handles we touch. We’re probably going to be sitting next to people but we have our masks and all the things we are supposed to take.
“We are slightly worried about the situation but we want to go and see our family more. My dad lives there so we want to see him.
“I haven’t seen him since the start of the year so that is the reason we are going. I’m not sure if I would be so happy if we were going to holiday but we are going to my dad’s house.
“The police over there are patrolling every year and my dad has been stopped. I feel safer in Spain because the police are making sure people are wearing masks and social distancing.
“For us it is a bit of sun and we’ve been working constantly during lockdown so we’ve still had to produce a service. We need a break now.”
Irene Geddes, 57, and Lauren Stephen, 36, and daughters Eilidh and Elsie from Peterhead are also heading for a family reunion.
Lauren’s husband Craig works for Baker Hughes in Africa and they have chosen Alicante for a get together.
Lauren said: “The kids dad works abroad so we are going to meet them over there. My mum is over there too.
“It is 12 weeks since the girls have seen their dad. He works in Africa in the oil industry and we are excited to go and see them.
“The girls are happy and fine. They have their masks on and are ready to see everybody.”
Speaking about travelling across Europe during the pandemic, Irene said: “We are not worried at all. We’ve just got to get on with it now.”
College lecturer Sue Porter, 63, from Aberdeen said after having her holiday cancelled twice already she was keen to get to the Costa Blanca.
She said she was not bothered about having to wear a mask during the flight although is nervous about what to expect in Spain.
Sue said: “I can’t wait. It was cancelled at Easter, cancelled in May and now we are on the first flight out of Aberdeen.
“I’m not worried too much at my age you don’t get so worried. I’m excited but a little worried about what we get on the other side.
“I had my temperature taken which was fine and I’m washing my hands and using common sense.
“It doesn’t bother me about being on a plane. I don’t think it will be full and I’m sure they have taken every precaution.”
Offshore telecommunications engineer Darren McFall, 32, lives in Alicante and is going home to see his wife and daughter.
He is returning to Spain after completing his first shift since the spring and said it “fantastic” to be returning to his family.
Darren said: “This is fantastic for me. I just want to get home. I’m happy enough to fly.
“I’ve not been coming to work since March so I’ve been stuck in Alicante which isn’t a bad place to be.”
Ryanair resumed operations on Wednesday (July 1) and airline bosses expect to carry millions of passengers to the Mediterranean this month
The company’s CEO Michael O’ Leary said: ” We expect in July to carry more than 4.5 million customers, many of them families taking well-earned Mediterranean holidays after the severe challenges of the Covid-19 lockdown and home schooling.”
Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, which owns and operates Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: “We are continuing to support our airline partners’ plans to resume operations and have introduced a series of health measures to keep our terminals clean and safe as we welcome more passengers back to our airports.
“It’s vital we adopt a targeted, common sense approach to the safe re-establishment of our air connectivity.
“The introduction of air bridges will allow us to strike the important balance of protecting public health while getting the country and our economy moving again. Unlike the blanket quarantine policy which has been hugely damaging to our aviation, tourism and hospitality industries, air bridges will allow travel between low-risk countries and protect the public from high-risk arrivals.”
With increased coronavirus measures in place at Aberdeen International Airport lounge, retail and restaurant services are currently closed. Although hot drinks are available at vending machines.
Bosses at the Dyce transport hub hope to begin offering travellers more options with reopening dates set for some outlets.
Boots could reopen from July 20, World Duty Free could welcome back customers from the same date, WH Smith could offer retail services again from July 23 and the Northern Lights Lounge is earmarked for reopening on August 1.
Store opening hours will be initially limited and are yet to be confirmed.