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Britons flying home to Spain caught in post-Brexit red tape


MADRID (AP) — #Blame COVID-19 travel restrictions or #Brexit but whatever the cause, some #British citizens trying to return to their homes in several #European countries this weekend have been barred from boarding flights.

#Airlines refused documents that before #Brexit had been valid proof of the #Britons’ status as residents in #Spain, #Italy and #Germany, although #Spanish authorities claimed that the issue had been resolved by mid-Sunday.

Their ordeal came amid heightened travel restrictions due to a coronavirus variant that has been blamed for faster contagion in the U.K. and highlights the bureaucratic complexities resulting from #Britain’s departure from the 27-nation #European #Union.

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#Both #Spanish and #British authorities said #Sunday that the green-colored certificate of EU citizenship with a foreign national identification number issued by #Spain is still valid for #British citizens residing in #Spain under the bilateral provisions that followed the U.K.’s withdrawal from the bloc on #Dec. 31.

#But the travelers say #British #Airways and #Iberia have been refusing to let them board for the past two days. The airlines, part of the IAG group, didn’t immediately respond to requests #Sunday for comment from The #Associated #Press.

#Around 300,000 #British citizens are registered as permanent residents in #Spain, although before #Brexit, many more had been living full or part-time in the country without officially registering.

#Patricia #Moody, a 69-year-old retiree who has called the southern #Spanish town of #Zurgena home for nearly four years, was among a group of at least nine people unable to board a #Madrid-bound BA/Iberia flight from #London’s #Heathrow #Airport on #Saturday.

#Moody said she and her husband, who she says needs to see his doctor back in #Spain, have spent 1,900 pounds ($2,600) on getting tested for the virus, traveling to the airport and booking new tickets after they were refused boarding. Their second attempt was also futile.

“Throughout all the months of negotiating #Brexit, we were always assured that nothing would change for us,” she said. #Referring to the airlines and authorities in both countries, she added: “It’s horrendous and we are suffering because of their incompetence.”

#Following the discovery of the coronavirus variant in the U.K., many #European nations have banned all travel from the #British isles except for their own nationals and U.K. citizens with residency rights.

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#Travelers to #Pisa, #Italy, and #Berlin have also reported similar hurdles in boarding planes operated by #Ryanair and #Lufthansa despite carrying documents that had been accepted by the #Italian and #German governments, respectively.

#Matt #Bristow, a spokesman for the #British in #Germany association of residents in that country, said: “This appears to be a case of U.K. airport staff not knowing what documents to accept or applying the rules more stringently than the #German border police would.”

#Spain has been rolling out a new system to register permanent foreign residents called TIE but it’s suffering a backlog due to the high number of requests. #Authorities told AP that proof of application for the TIE and the “green certificate” for EU citizens were still valid to travel for #British residents under the new health restrictions in place until #Jan. 19.

“This should not be happening,” said the U.K. embassy in #Spain said in a #Facebook post. “The #Spanish authorities have today re-confirmed that the green residency document will be accepted for travel to return to #Spain, as stated in our travel advice.”

#But #Sam #Dakin, a 32-year-old #English-language teacher based in #Barcelona for the last four years, and his partner, who has been in the #Spanish city for 8 years, said they needed more assurances before they could rebook flights.

The couple had been blocked from flying #Saturday morning despite carrying their certificate and then were refused boarding on another flight #Saturday evening that #British #Airways had initially said they could take.

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“Just because the government adviser said that we could travel, we don’t know whether that will happen when we turn up at the counters,” #Dakin said. “We just don’t know where we’re going to get answers.”

#In a statement, #Spain’s #Foreign #Ministry said there had been “an isolated communication problem with some airlines that affected a very small number of travelers” and that air traffic between the U.K. and #Spain was proceeding “with normality” by mid-Sunday.

___

AP writer #Geir #Moulson in #Berlin contributed to this report.



[ source link ]
https://apnews.com/article/brexit-travel-europe-madrid-coronavirus-pandemic-85e29a58dc53284b611f09ffb905c204

##Britons #flying #home ##Spain #caught #postBrexit #red #tape

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