French ski resorts ‘back to normal’ as bookings return to pre-pandemic levels

A study by French tourist businesses show that booking in ski resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees are almost back to pre-pandemic levels after two years of closures and tight restrictions.

French ski resorts 'back to normal' as bookings return to pre-pandemic levels
Skiers at Val Thorens ski resort, in the French Alps. Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

A study from the holiday firm PAP Vaccances found that bookings were almost back to pre-pandemic levels – up 8.3 percent on 2020 and 88 percent on 2021, a year marked by the total closure of ski lifts. 

Resorts in the Alps, which account for two thirds of the French ski industry, were just 5 percent below their 2020 booking rates, but bookings in the Pyrenees had increased by 70 percent on 2020.

The 2019/20 ski season was curtailed by the emergence of the pandemic in February and nationwide lockdown in March, while the 2020/21 season was a virtual write-off with ski lifts, bars and restaurants closed throughout the season and strict travel restrictions in place.

The 2021/22 season has been open as normal, albeit with strict health measures in place including the requirement of a vaccine pass to access ski lifts and masks required in crowded areas including ski lift queues.

READ ALSO The rules in place in French ski resorts over the February holiday

While travel has been open throughout the season for residents of France or the EU, visitors from non-EU countries such as the USA have extra restrictions in place while a de facto ban on all travel from the UK was in place over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

In recent weeks France has been progressively lifting its Covid restrictions so that fully-vaccinated holidaymakers can travel freely from all non-EU countries and masks are no longer required in ski lifts.

However the vaccine pass is still required – including for some children – and booster shots are necessary for most adults in order to hold a valid vaccine pass.

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‘IT problems’ blamed for cancellation of flights from French airports

The French holiday weekend of Ascension has been hit by travel problems after Easyjet cancelled dozens of flights.

'IT problems' blamed for cancellation of flights from French airports

Easyjet announced on Thursday that it would have to cancel several dozen flights, many of which were set to depart from French airports like Paris Charles de Gaulle, Lyon, Toulouse and Nice.

The British budget airline tweeted an apology to the customers impacted, explaining that ‘IT system issues’ were to blame. 

In total, 200 flights across Europe were affected, confirmed the British newspaper The Independent.

Several customers expressed frustration at the hours-long wait times, many taking to Twitter to vent, like this user below:

So what happened?

Easyjet has not been very specific about the issue aside from explaining that the root of the problem was a computer system failure. They announced quickly that they were working to restore their systems and that in the meantime customers should continue to check Flight Tracker in order to verify the status of their flight prior to leaving for the airport.

While flights were set to resume on Friday, Thursday’s cancellations have had a domino effect, bringing about further delays and cancellations for flights originally scheduled for Friday. 

If you have flights booked, it is best, as stated above, to keep an eye on Flight Tracker in order to avoid potentially long wait-times at the airport.

Will passengers be compensated?

While Easyjet initially explained the IT problem as “beyond [their] control” and an “exceptional circumstance,” the company eventually retracted these statements and released a new statement saying that “Customers can request compensation in accordance with the regulations.” Here is the link to their website to find out more.

If you plan to request a refund, be advised that under European regulation for air passenger rights, travellers should be entitled to compensation between €260 to €410 per person depending on the duration of the flight, with the latter representing flight distances of over 1,500 km. Read more here.

Since Brexit, passengers departing from the UK may no longer be covered by the European compensation rules.