Thousands of Lapland travellers faced being stuck in Finland after the UK’s travel rules were changed. From 4am on December 7, travellers need to take a PCR test before arriving in the UK.
TUI had 2,500 customers in Lapland with many more due to fly out to Finland for a winter break this week.
The airline flew the tests out to help customers comply with the new restrictions which apply to everyone over the age of 12.
TUI UK’s commercial and business development director, Richard Sofer, said: “Families plan all year for their magical trips to Lapland with dreams of meeting Santa, husky sleighing and feeding the reindeer.
“It’s our job to ensure their dreams are a reality and our Christmas elves, as ever, are on hand to help make sure they experience the magical wonders of Lapland.”
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Guests due to depart to Lapland after the rules have changed will need to arrange their own pre-departure tests.
Although the airline has saved holidays for many families, some have criticised the airline for flying an empty plane to deliver the tests.
According to The Independent, the round trip to Lapland from Birmingham would have cost around £30,000.
It is also likely to have generated around 100 tons in carbon emissions, according to an industry source who spoke to the publication.
A spokesperson for TUI told The Independent: “We were delighted to help our customers in Lapland by providing tests for them in resort so they could return home to the UK.
“As the most sustainable airline in Europe, we take our responsibility to the planet extremely seriously.
“Unfortunately test kits could not be provided in time for our early TUI departures this morning and, after spending many hours looking for alternatives, this was the only option available to make sure our customers could return home as planned.”
Lapland is an extremely popular destination for families, who travel to visit ‘Santa’s hometown’.
Gary Lewis, CEO of the Travel Network Group, told Express.co.uk: “The latest Covid travel announcements are a punch in the stomach for the travel industry just as we approach the important Christmas period, the ski season and the traditional January summer holiday booking peak.
“We are all very much aware of the dangers that Covid and new strains bring, but without enough data on the omicron variant, blanket testing does feel like a knee-jerk Government reaction.
“If the Government decides to impose a decision, the consequences for the travel industry should be thought through and direct, immediate financial support offered.”
British travellers should check the UK Government website for the latest travel restrictions as rules can change rapidly and with little warning.