UP to 100,000 Brits have five days to get home or get cleared by a Covid test.
The race is on to beat new border rules being imposed on Wednesday or Thursday.
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After then, anyone arriving in Britain by plane, train or boat must present a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before travelling.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the deadline gave those abroad a chance to get home if they could not be checked where they were.
The Department for Transport has yet to reveal the exact date for the introduction of the rules, which will involve all passengers heading for England and Scotland.
Mr Shapps said the requirement was “much more urgent” because of new strains of Covid.
But Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye claimed that thousands would be stranded overseas owing to a lack of the necessary facilities in some countries.
The new regime is expected to spark a scramble for return flights among Brits in winter sun holiday destinations, such as the Caribbean, Dubai and Maldives.
Mr Holland-Kaye called on the Government to take the lead in creating a common international standard for testing to resolve confusing differences between nations.
How coronavirus has crippled the travel industry
HERE’S how coronavirus has hit major travel operators:
- British Airways has suspended all routes from London Gatwick and London City airports, and has moved all operations into terminal 5 at London Heathrow.
The airline is currently operating just one in ten of its usual flights.
On April 28, BA’s parent company IAG said it was preparing to cut 12,000 jobsfrom the airline’s 42,000-strong workforce.
Reports on April 30 suggest a quarter of pilot roles could be included in this number.
- easyJet has grounded its entire fleet of 330 aircraft and cancelled all flights.
The airline hasn’t said when it will start flying again but its staff are currently being given a two-month leave of absence, meaning the measures will last at least until June.
- Flybe collapsed into administration on March 5.
The airline had been losing money for several months, with it narrowly avoiding going under in January 2020, but coronavirus was understood to have had a severe impact on bookings.
- Jet2 has cancelled all flights and holiday packages until June 17.
The airline is expected to start flying again from the middle of June.
However, this could change depending on the lockdown situation.
- Ryanair has grounded 99 per cent of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Remaining flights are operating on an emergency schedule only for passengers trying to return to the UK.
The airline has announced it could cut 3,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan.
- TUI has suspended all package holidays and cruises due to the crisis.
All trips have been cancelled until June 11, while Marella Cruise holidays won't resume until July.
The dates could be extended again depending on government advice.
- Virgin Atlantic has suspended all flights, with no word on when it'll start flying again.
Virgin Group owner Richard Branson has asked the government for a bailout to keep the airline going, as well as private investors. But 3,150 staff also face the axe.
It follows the fall of Virgin Australia into administration after being refused a bailout from the Australian government.
- Wizz Air had grounded the majority of its flights, with limited routes to Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland.
However, the airline has today resumed some routes from London Luton Airport.
Destinations include Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain and Israel.
He said his airport had the capacity to test up to 25,000 people a day — for departing passengers to meet requirements in their destinations — but other world airports lacked such facilities.
The Heathrow chief exec also warned the new requirements, which do not exempt people from quarantine, could be the final nail in the coffin for Britain’s travel industry.
Mr Shapps suggested the tough border regime would stay in place only until most of the UK population had been vaccinated.
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