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EasyJet CEO does not expect Indian variant to 'ruin' summer travel

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LONDON (Reuters) - The boss of easyJet said he does not expect the Indian coronavirus variant to be the biggest problem for Europe's coming travel season, although he said another lost summer would be perilous for Britain's aviation industry. 

  Britain has so far stuck with strict travel restrictions for most destinations abroad damaging the airline and travel industries, which face a new threat from worries about the spread in the United Kingdom of the novel coronavirus variant first found in India. 

  Germany has banned most travellers from the country because of the variant and France has hinted it could follow suit. 

  EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said the industry's survival could be at risk if it had to endure a second summer of restricted travel. 

  "I don't think that UK aviation as an industry can go through another lost summer without grave consequences," he told an online industry event on Wednesday. 

  But for him, the Indian variant is not the concern. He said that evidence so far showed that vaccines are effective against it. 

  "I don't think that the outlook...is that because of the Indian variant the summer is ruined," he said. 

  Lundgren's bigger worry is that Britain sticks to its strict travel rules which mean Portugal is the only major holiday destination open to Britons. 

  British tourists had hoped to return to southern European beaches this summer, but rules for all other destinations mean they must take multiple COVID-19 tests and quarantine on their return, despite countries like Spain opening to them. 

  "The government needs to be ready and prepared to step up to protect this industry and it has to do so because it is its restrictions that have made it impossible to operate for the players in this industry," Lundgren said. 

  It was unlikely that the coming summer would be another lost season, said Lungren, but he urged Britain to put more countries on its green travel list at the next review on June 7. 

  (Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and Barbara Lewis) 

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