Travel

EasyJet chief believes ‘most European countries WILL be on UK ‘green list’ of low-risk nations

The chief executive of easyJet said that by the time travel restarts in Britain on May 17, most European countries should be on the UK’s green list for travel.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, told reporters this morning: ‘I will struggle to see that there will be, unless something happens between now and then, that there would be many (European) countries who wouldn’t be in that green category.’

The Government has yet to say which countries will make its green list for low risk travel.

The chief executive of easyJet Johan Lundgren (pictured) said that by the time travel restarts in Britain on May 17, most European countries should be on the UK's green list for travel

The chief executive of easyJet Johan Lundgren (pictured) said that by the time travel restarts in Britain on May 17, most European countries should be on the UK’s green list for travel

EasyJet’s Lundgren said the main question customers were asking was which countries would be on the green list and urged the government to come forward with details as soon as possible.

He added: ‘We would expect that, if the Government continues with the approach on the testing regime that they have said, I would expect almost all major European countries, that by the time it comes to travel reopening, that most countries in Europe should be in that category.’

He added: ‘If the PCR test and the lateral flow test will need to be in place for ‘green’ countries, I couldn’t see that there would be many countries in Europe that wouldn’t be in the ‘green’ category. 

‘It’s important the Government comes out with this list as soon as possible because this is the main question for most of our customers right now.

‘They want to know if the favourite destination for them to go on their holiday or to visit friends and family across Europe is that country in the ‘green’ category.

‘And it will be a big difference, of course, if you’re in the ‘green’ category, versus if you’re in ‘amber’ or ‘red’.’

 

Asked if he expects destinations such as France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey to be on the Government ‘green list’, easyJet boss Johan Lundgren replied: ‘Yes, by the time we open up for travel on May 17 and if the Government continues to have the plan in place on the two-test system.

‘I wouldn’t see reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there.

‘We really believe that, if you’re in the ‘green’ category, there should not be any need of any testing at all because it would be considered low-risk.’ 

Britons will be allowed to fly to ‘green’ countries with low Covid rates and strong vaccine rollouts, as long as they take tests before flying out and returning home.

One Whitehall source said Greece could make it on to the so-called ‘green list’ next month despite a recent rise in cases, while the USA, Gibraltar, Malta and much of the Caribbean are tipped for green status. 

Those returning from these countries where the virus is under control will not have to quarantine on return.

easyJet boss Johan Lundren has urged the Government to come forward with details of its green list as soon as possible but Malta (pictured) is one that sources say could be included

easyJet boss Johan Lundren has urged the Government to come forward with details of its green list as soon as possible but Malta (pictured) is one that sources say could be included

They will have to take only one test after flying home, rather than the current two.

And ministers are said to be considering giving travellers free Covid tests to take abroad to save the hassle and cost of arranging one before flying home. 

But under the ‘traffic light’ system, it is expected the vast majority of returning holidaymakers will be required to take PCR tests – which cost around £120 – a move that risks pricing families out of a summer break.

It would cost the average family of four an extra £600 on top of flights and accommodation.

Airline bosses including easyJet’s Johan Lundgren have warned the current testing requirements could make travel prohibitively expensive, with Covid tests costing more than the flight itself in some cases. 

They have argued that families would be reluctant to book if they were forced to find an extra £600 to pay for the tests on top of the cost of the holiday.

It comes as easyJet has said it is getting ready to ‘ramp up’ services for the summer holiday season by offering more flights from late May after restrictions ease.

The carrier said it expects to fly up to 20 per cent of 2019 capacity levels between April and June, with most countries planning to resume flying at scale in May.

EasyJet flew just 14 per cent of its 2019 flight programme between October and the end of March.

The group confirmed it will slump to a steep first-half loss, of between £690 million and £730 million for the six months to March 31, but said this is slightly better than expected thanks largely to stringent cost-cutting.

It burned through around £470 million of cash during its second quarter to the end of December, which was lower than feared as it slashed costs by nearly 60 per cent to about £854 million.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘We continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe and, with vaccination programmes accelerating, most countries are planning to resume flying at scale in May.

‘We have the operational flexibility to rapidly increase flying and add destinations to match demand.

‘EasyJet is ready to resume flying, prepared for the ramp-up and looking forward to being able to reunite people with their families or take them on leisure and business flights once again.’

But he reiterated calls for the Government to cut the price of Covid-19 tests for air passengers, having previously said they sometimes cost more than easyJet’s tickets.

He said: ‘EasyJet was founded to make travel accessible for all and so we continue to engage with Government to ensure that the cost of the required testing is driven down so that it doesn’t risk turning back the clock and make travel too costly for some.’

Britons are set to be allowed to travel abroad for foreign holidays from May 17 under the Government’s road map to easing coronavirus restrictions.

But there are fears over a third wave across Europe and with vaccination programmes progressing more slowly in other countries globally.  


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