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Most of Europe should be open for summer holidays from May 17, says easyJet boss

Charles Hymas
·3-min read
easyjet.jpg
easyjet.jpg
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

Most European countries should be on the Government's "green list" for foreign summer holidays when the travel ban is lifted on May 17, the boss of easyJet has said.

Johan Lundgren, the airline's chief executive, said he could see no reason why the most popular tourist destinations in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey and other states should not be open when the Government ends its ban on non-essential travel.

He said the requirement for two tests for holidaymakers returning to the UK from "green list" countries meant travel would be safe given the rollout of the vaccination programme both in Britain and on the Continent.

"If there are PCR and lateral flow tests needed, then by the time we get to May 17 and with the rollout of the vaccination programme that seems to be picking up everywhere around Europe, I would struggle to see many countries that would not be in that green category," he said.

He said the airline was ready to "ramp up" services for the summer holiday season as it prepares to start offering more flights from late May after restrictions ease.

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

At the beginning of May, the Government is due to unveil which countries will be on the "green list" under a traffic light system that assesses their risk based on vaccination rates, the prevalence of Covid and its variants and their capacity for genome sequencing the virus.

Travel Traffic Lights
Travel Traffic Lights

Holidaymakers returning from "green list" countries will be exempt from quarantine but have to take a lateral flow test – which could be freely provided by the Government – within 72 hours of departure back to the UK and a "gold standard" PCR test on or before the second day of their arrival.

"Amber list" countries will require travellers to take a pre-departure tests, then PCR tests on days two and eight while quarantining at home. They can opt for a test on day five and be released from self-isolation if negative. Countries on the banned "red list" require hotel quarantine.

Asked whether he expects destinations such as France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey to be on the "green list", Mr Lundgren replied: "Yes – by the time we open up for travel on the 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.

"But like I said, that decision lies within the Government and we urge them to come out and specify very shortly on what those countries will be."

He said the industry’s preference would be for "green list" countries to be free of any restrictions but, if there had to be then it should be a lateral flow test which, if positive, could then seen the traveller have a PCR test to enable genome sequencing to check for variants.

"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," he added.

EasyJet 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 was slightly better than expected thanks largely to stringent cost-cutting.