The UK Government has set aside £75m to help Britons stranded abroad return home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The warchest will go towards measures such as chartering flights where there are no commercial routes running.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced the move at a Downing Street briefing, confirming a new arrangement between the Government and airlines.
As part of the agreement – which Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan airlines have entered into – where commercial routes remain open, airlines will be responsible for getting passengers home.
In this scenario, Raab said they would be offering alternative flights at little to no cost where routes have been cancelled. Passengers will also be allowed to exchange tickets, including between carriers.
For people in this particular situation, Raab advised “don’t wait” and “book your tickets as soon as possible”.
British Airways has also said it will support the Government in getting people home.
Where commercial routes are no longer running, the Government will provide financial support for special chartered flights to get people home from a range of priority countries.
With chartered flights, passengers will book and pay directly through a dedicated travel management company.
The Government’s cash injection is aimed at supporting those flights and airlines and to keep cost affordable for those wanting to return.
The elderly and those with medical needs will be prioritised, as well as countries with large numbers of tourists looking to get home.
Raab said he appreciated the “unprecedented number of UK travellers” trying to get home, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, and added the Government recognises the anxieties of families, who are concerned about their stranded loved ones.
At the briefing, it was confirmed the latest number of people to die from coronavirus is 1408, with the number of positive tests standing at 22,141.