Dear Broadland Balloonists,
Below is a short FAQs page to answer some of the most common questions about our COVID-19 response. Our office is still ‘open’ with calls diverted to home based staff, so please only call if it is necessary. We can process orders over the phone and arrange posting of vouchers, but flight date reservations for existing voucher holders should be made through this website.
As we face this unprecedented crisis together, we thank you for supporting our small family business and we hope that you and your loved ones are kept safe and well. We look forward to meeting you all in a field someday soon to embark on an exciting adventure into the sky.
We will update this page as often as relevant new becomes available, so please check back here regularly.
The Broadland Balloons Team
Will COVID-19 affect my flight?
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Department for Transport (DfT) are slowly easing the restrictions which have prevented balloon flights from taking place during lockdown. Initially, we were released to make private flights, which meant that our pilots could fly solo, or with members of their own household. From the 4th of July, we were then permitted to resume pilot training programs, such that students could fly with instructors or examiners. Under the CAA’s guidance, we are now conducting some test flights in our small balloons carrying just 2 passengers plus crew, and we are confident that during the latter half of July we will be able to service the small number of customers who hold our ‘Exclusive For Two’ vouchers (not to be confused with just 2 regular vouchers) by flying them in the small balloon with just one or two crew.
Flights in the larger balloons, which carry 10, 12, 14 or 16 passengers cannot yet take place and have been suspended until after the 24th July (at the earliest). The CAA cannot give us a date for these flights to resume because not only do such flights require passengers to be within 1 metre of each other, but they also involve large groups of people. As you know, group sizes are limited to 6, even in your own garden, and until the government increases this group size, the CAA and DfT cannot authorise us to resume flights in the large balloons. Of course, 99% of our passengers have vouchers to fly in these balloons, and so our business is still effectively suspended.
Frustratingly, we have all seen that the airlines are back in operation, with 150 passengers packed into jets heading for Spain. Although the CAA regulates us as commercial operators and have required us to continue paying for all of our licences (even though we cannot fly), they categorise us as ‘recreational’ commercial aviation and thus less important than Easyjet or BA. Consequently, you can book a holiday flight to Spain, but not a balloon flight over Norfolk. It does seem rather unfair, but our small industry has little chance of influencing government policy.
What will happen to my vouchers and expiry date?
We are keen to ensure you are not missing out through no fault of your own. Therefore we will extend your flight vouchers accordingly, if necessary into the 2021 flying season. If, for example, we are unable to operate for the next three months, we will extend your vouchers to include three months of the next flying season.
Can I rebook my cancelled flight yet?
Yes! We have worked hard to get our flying schedule together for July and August so that you can rebook for later in the year. At this busy time, please avoid telephoning our office if possible, and instead reschedule your balloon flight by visiting the redeem voucher section of our website.
What if I’m buying a new voucher?
If you are purchasing new vouchers do not fear. We have increased the validity of all of our vouchers from 12 months to 18 months. This will give you enough time to get booked in and flown, be it in 2020 or 2021.
Page Last Updated: 07/07/20