At the least two flights to repatriate Irish residents

The government has announced at least two consular flights to bring Irish residents home after a ban on flights from the UK to Ireland.

Flights depart tomorrow evening and are operated by Irish airlines.

A 48-hour ban on flights from the UK went into effect at midnight in response to a new strain of Covid-19 in the south east of England.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney and Transport Secretary Eamon Ryan said the consular flights will also be accessible to Irish passengers flying through UK airports, which have also been stranded.

At least one flight starts in London. The other departure airport will be decided by the request of those who turn to the support line of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The flights are only open to Irish residents and transit passengers.

The State Department said there will be no access to people in the UK planning short trips to Ireland at Christmas due to the ongoing public health travel ban.

Anyone eligible to participate in consular flights should identify themselves with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and register at +353 1 613 1700 in order to be accepted on the flight.

According to the statement, it is not possible to book these flights via any other route.

Arrangements are also made with ferry companies for a small number of Irish residents who are stranded in the UK after short journeys with their vehicles.

These ferry trips cannot be booked directly, and those entitled to travel must also contact the hotline on +353 1 613 1700.

Read more: Latest Coronavirus Stories

The airlines have reassured customers whose flights have been canceled that they are eligible for a refund or a date change.

Aer Lingus has confirmed that it will not operate flights from the UK to Ireland during this period and has also announced that it will operate flights from Ireland to the UK to facilitate repatriation and access to connecting flights.

Ryanair said passengers affected by flights banned between December 20 and 24 would be contacted via email and offered alternatives, including refunds or change of travel date.

The airline will operate all other flights – to or from the UK – that are allowed to fly, it said.

Ferries will continue to cross the Irish Sea to carry cargo, but the only passengers allowed are key members of the supply chain.

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