Britain’s biggest travel firm has cancelled hundreds of thousands of peak-season holidays.

Tui blamed “the ongoing travel restrictions” for cancelling another 10 days of trips, which were due to depart between 1 and 10 July.

Package holidays and flight-only bookings are affected.

Its rival, Jet2, had previously cancelled all package holidays and flights up to and including 14 July.

Cruise holidays with Tui’s Marella brand will not start before 31 July. Many sailings after that date have already been cancelled.

Tui had previously pledged to resume operations from the UK on 1 July.

But with only 20 days remaining, and no indication of when the Foreign Office (FCO) might ease its blanket warning against all-but-essential travel abroad, the firm had little choice but to make a decision to defer the start date.

Even if the Foreign Office were to soften its travel advice, the government’s controversial new quarantine scheme requires all returning holidaymakers to spend two weeks in self-isolation after arriving back in the UK.

Andrew Flintham, Tui’s UK & Ireland managing director, said: “It is critical to allow people to begin to fly again as soon as possible, to help protect jobs and allow those that want to travel to do so.

“We therefore call upon government to give a clear timeline for when the current FCO advice will be reviewed and decide on alternatives to a blanket quarantine, such as air bridges, as quickly as possible.”

All other holidays are presumed to be going ahead, though there is no guarantee that operations will begin on 11 July.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, Tui customers affected by the latest round of cancellations are entitled to a refund by 25 June.

But the company insists that cancelled travellers wait up to three weeks for a “refund credit” and only then apply for their money back.

Tui says: “We are unable to process your refund request if you haven’t yet received your refund credit code.”

Customers will then have to wait up to four further weeks.

Separately, the Department for Transport has written to the Right To Refund group to confirm that the law on refunds for cancelled travellers has not changed.

The letter adds: “The government appreciates the frustration that consumers may currently be experiencing when seeking a refund.

“Please be assured that the government is taking this issue seriously, and is working at pace to help support passengers, workers and businesses through the Covid-19 crisis.”

The Right To Refund campaign leader, Kane Pirie, said: “The position for both travel companies and customers is now finally crystal clear: pay up.”

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