Romanians raced to board planes home out of the UK for Christmas on Monday before a two-week ban on flights after the appearance of a highly contagious new strain of the coronavirus.
Thousands of Romanians rushed to change their tickets after British government said it would tighten Covid curbs over Christmas and impose a new Tier 4 lockdown after the appearance of a new Covid mutation in London and the south east.
Romanians in the UK raced to board the final flights in a desperate bid to get back before commercial air travel was suspended.
Fourteen flights were scheduled to land at Bucharest’s main airport on Monday, with the last flight landing at 7 pm just before the deadline.
Airlines put on four extra flights to cope with rising demand. There are an estimated half a million Romanians living in the UK.
There were nine flights from Heathrow, Luton and Stanstead on Monday and five flights from Sheffield, London Gatwick and Birmingham. Edinburgh and Liverpool.
The influx of passengers from the UK began Sunday after the announcement. Many Romanians headed home days earlier than planned fearing fresh restrictions with the latest lockdown in the UK.
By Sunday evening, Romania had announced it would suspend flights to and from the UK for a fortnight.
Romania and countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Ireland, as well as several non-European nations have announced restrictions on UK travel following the outbreak of the new more contagious strain across south east England.
On Monday there was chaos at airports across Britain with more than 30,000 travelers stranded and hundreds of flights canceled as more countries move to isolate the UK in a bid to contain the new mutant strain, the Daily Mail reported.
Romanian airlines Tarom, British Airways, Wizzair, Blue Air and Ryanair all had flights Monday before the deadline.
And late Sunday evening, Romanian authorities introduced a quarantine for passengers from the UK, leading to complaints that there was no warning about the new restrictions.
The last flight to arrive in Bucharest before the quarantine came in was a fully-booked Wizz flight from Luton which landed at Henri Coanda at 7 pm.
The National Committee for Emergency Situations on Sunday decided to suspend flights to and from the British Isles for a fortnight starting Monday evening.