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EasyJet says UK holidaymakers left ‘isolated’ as eyes the Continental resurgence

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Johan Lundgren
Johan Lundgren

EasyJet is hoping to salvage more of the crucial summer holiday season by ramping up flights on the European Continent.

Boss Johan Lundgren warned the UK had become "isolated" by imposing strict border controls than the likes of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

It came as the budget carrier revealed it lost £3.5m a day between April and June as one in three seats were left empty.

Mr Lundgren has repeatedly criticised Boris Johnson's administration over its handling of the crisis over what has been called a "flip-flop" policy towards border restrictions.

Earlier this year easyJet moved aircraft to the Continent to capture demand that followed the easing of restrictions.

Traditionally easyJet bookings are split 50:50 between the UK and Europe. However, with countries on the Continent relaxing restrictions more quickly, roughly two-thirds of bookings are coming from Europe.

The airline is now operating more flights from the Netherlands than before the pandemic, for instance.

“There is no reason when you are travelling to and from a low-risk country that you should have any testing in place. And that’s being done elsewhere” Mr Lundgren said. “The UK is standing out and isolating itself from these measures.”

Total seats flown in the three months to June were just 17pc of levels two years ago. This will rise to 60pc in the key months of July, August and September.

It came as the budget carrier revealed it lost £3.5m a day between April and June as one in three seats were left empty.

But boss Johan Lundgren said the airline benefited from its base at Gatwick, where waiting times were the same as prior to the pandemic, despite the increased number of checks at the border.

Mr Lundgren added: “I think Heathrow has a problem.”

Heathrow has been plagued by queues as long as six hours earlier in the year. “They have more capacity coming in from red destinations,” he added.

The Telegraph revealed over the weekend that Heathrow had written to ministers asking for a “test and release” trial to be extended into August. It warned there would be “significant disruption” if staff were unable to turn up to work after being alerted by the NHS test and trace app to isolate.

The Luton-based airline carried nearly three million passengers in the three months to June. Load factors - the percentage of the plane that is full - were just 66pc.

Revenues during the period were £213m - considerably higher than the £7m collected one year earlier. Pre-tax losses were in line with City expectations at £318m.

The airline has bolstered its cash reserves with access to £2.9bn of funding, double the £1.4bn it typically set aside prior to the pandemic, Kenton Jarvis, easyJet finance chief, explained.

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