Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Can students still travel to study?

Despite Covid restrictions, Abby Penston, CEO of Focus Travel Partnership, outlines how foreign students are able to return to the UK

Despite restrictions on travel, our partners have been busy arranging – and admittedly rearranging – many travel plans since the global pandemic took hold. It has taken us by surprise how many different industry sectors have been travelling across borders over the past nine months, albeit in smaller numbers. One such sector has been international students.

Most universities in the UK depend on the income of their international students, so as the pandemic and its issues dragged into the summer months, the pressure was on for the start of the academic year.

However, our partners are experienced. They are travel management companies, who can navigate their way through complex and varied levels of requirements, bureaucracy, and border changes, so when a few of our partners were tasked with getting Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi students back to the UK, they welcomed the challenge.

But it has been the China-UK routes that are most complex. Few airlines had re-commenced flights. Air China flights didn’t re-start until 26 October, and British Airways’ Shanghai-London route didn’t have passenger traffic rights – just cargo rights. Virgin Atlantic could take passengers, but economy fares one-way were over £2,500. Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong was also not possible. Chartering aircraft could also not guarantee traffic rights.

As an umbrella group, Focus Travel Partnership helps its partners through not only economies of scale – we negotiate on behalf of 60 travel companies to get the best value airline flight deals and the fastest, state-of-the- art technology, saving clients time and money. We also know all the right people.

So, through our network, a partner found a contact at Singapore Airlines. As a result, they secured great deals for hundreds of Chinese students to the UK, and dealt with each individual requirement; ensured that they all knew the Covid requirements; arranged a private group check-in at Shanghai; and arranged for coaches to meet them at the airports to ensure minimal contact with others.

“...they secured great deals for hundreds of Chinese students to the UK, 
and dealt with each individual requirement...”

Another partner reported that they have helped those teaching English in China to get home at the end of their contracts before visas ran out, while flights were being cancelled. They did this by securing a combination of flights via Turkey.

Our partners offer a professional service and good value deals while ensuring they keep on top of the latest travel rules for each government around the world. To find a Travel Management Company that can meet your requirements, see https://focustravel.uk.

Image courtesy of Library
Abby Penston
Abby Penston
Abby is CEO of Focus Travel Partnership, an umbrella group of travel management companies that work for the independent sector. It has 60 members with a turnover of £1 billion. The partnership uses the members’ collective size and buying power to negotiate the best deals with suppliers in the air, rail and tech sectors.
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