British passenger Stuart Miller (pictured), a 47-year-old offshore worker from Manchester, said the situation at the Spanish airport was “absolutely diabolical”.
Spanish border officials refused entry to dozens of Brits and sent them back to Manchester on the same plane despite their post-Brexit residence.
Forty passengers were angry and confused after being turned away from Alicante and sent home on Monday. Her luggage was stuck in Spain until Friday.
Immigration officials in Alicante had written to the British asking them to collect their new residence permits or TIE cards, a system put in place after Brexit.
Passengers were allowed to leave the UK despite the current outbound travel ban as foreign residents are not subject to the £ 5,000 fine for leaving the UK.
And the UK government says paperwork to prove a successful residency application should be enough to enter Spain.
However, the passengers were refused entry by border guards who were obstructing and flanked by armed police.
Stuart Miller, a 47-year-old Manchester offshore worker, told Olive Press the situation was “utterly devilish” and asked, “What other evidence do you need for residency?”
Passengers say that Ryanair airport staff approved their departure from Manchester, but they were surprised to find a sign reading “NO TIE CARD, NO ENTRY” at the Spanish terminal.
Among the passengers stranded was a woman who had traveled to Spain to see her ailing father, who was alone in the hospital.
British passengers had been instructed by immigration officials in Alicante (file photo) to obtain their residence permit, which, according to the British government, should be sufficient to enter Spain
Spain wants to repatriate 3,000 tourists from Morocco
Madrid said today it is working to repatriate around 3,000 Spanish tourists stranded in Morocco after suddenly blocking passenger flights to Spain due to the pandemic.
The Moroccan government announced on Monday that all passenger flights to and from Spain and France will be suspended from Tuesday midnight to curb the spread of the virus.
“This is another example of how extremely responsible we must be in our travels right now,” said Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez.
The government is looking into ways to help Spaniards affected by the flight ban get home, the minister added, without giving details.
The ban comes during Easter week, a main tourist season, as Thursday and Friday are public holidays in much of Spain.
Morocco is one of Africa’s most popular travel destinations and welcomes 13 million foreign tourists in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Miller said the British “anger” was compounded by the fact that armed police were patrolling the checkpoint in addition to border guards.
Those denied entry had to re-board the plane they had just flown along with dozens of others taking a one-way trip from Alicante.
When dozens of passengers got back on the plane, the flight was later delayed, adding to the tension in the cabin.
In order to rub salt into the wound, they were informed that their luggage would not be sent back to Manchester until Good Friday, April 2nd.
Miller said: “There was no advice, no help and, to be fair, no good reason we were turned back in Alicante.”
Mr. Miller’s wife Caz warned other travelers, “Whatever paperwork you have with you and whoever tells you you’re okay to travel, be ready to be put back on the plane and sent back.”
She added, “The most confusing thing is the double standards. I think airport policy only depends on the mood of the border guards. ‘
At the time of the flight, Spain only allowed those who could prove residency in the country to enter from the UK due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Early confusion when the ban came in on December 23rd resulted in people being turned away despite having the correct documentation to prove their residence.
However, the UK government says the Spanish authorities have “officially confirmed” that relevant documentation should be sufficient to enter the country.
The TIE card system was introduced after Brexit to confirm residency for UK nationals who are allowed to stay under the EU withdrawal agreement.
The passengers were only sent back to Manchester Airport (picture) with their luggage, only to suffer an additional setback four days later
Documents that should be accepted include “receipt of application for TIE” or “confirmation of the positive outcome of your application for residence,” according to the UK.
Ryanair staff apparently had assured travelers that their documents, including passports and coronavirus tests, were sufficient to get to Spain.
Spain is easing its border restrictions from this week – but the ongoing ban on foreign holidays in Great Britain makes a resumption of tourism unlikely.
A spokesman for the British embassy in Madrid said they had been made aware that travelers were having problems at Alicante-Elche airport.
“If a UK national is planning to travel to Spain from the UK, he must ensure that he meets both the requirements for leaving the UK and for entering Spain, taking into account that they are not the same” said the spokesman.
Until March 30th at 6 p.m. only those who are legally resident or who have sufficient documentation to prove residency [were] allowed to enter Spain, ”they said.
From March 31, entry into Spain will also be granted to passengers who can prove that their travel is essential, as well as legal residents.
The embassy spokesman added: “Ultimately, the decision to enter Spain will be made by Spanish border guards.”