EasyJet (EZJ.L) has launched 12 new UK domestic routes amid a growing trend for staycations as international travel remains restricted due to the pandemic.
The airline has started operations from Belfast City to London Gatwick for the first time, and returns to East Midlands and Leeds Bradford, with new routes that were previously served by Stobart Air-operated Aer Lingus Regional.
EasyJet, which has also added 60,000 additional seats to existing routes from Belfast to Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, said flight sales started on Thursday from £14.99. It currently operates more seats on domestic flights than any other UK airline.
The budget carrier aims to provide fee-free flight changes to any date or destination up to two hours before departure as the demand for domestic travel rises. Customers can also transfer to any flights currently on sale up to the end of September 2022, the company said.
Shares in the company were more than 4% higher on Thursday.
“We know our customers can’t wait to be reunited with friends and family or to explore the UK so these additional new routes today should prove popular and will further strengthen our UK domestic network, providing customers with even more choice,” said Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK country manager.
He added: “We also know it is important to our customers to be reunited with loved ones overseas so we continue to urge the UK government to add more countries to the green list – which can be done safely – to make this possible.”
Domestic travel is expected to surge this summer after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the end of coronavirus restrictions in England earlier this week amid rising cases of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.
The fourth stage of lockdown was due to be lifted on 21 June but has now been pushed back to at least 19 July.
The government is also set to update its travel “traffic light” system next week. Earlier this month, UK ministers removed Portugal from its green travel list amid concern over rising coronavirus cases.
The holiday destination is now on the amber list, meaning that travellers have to quarantine for 10 days on their return, as well as pay for two PCR tests.
Scientists at the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) warned of rising COVID infection rates and the emergence of variants in the country. Rates rose from 33 cases to 51 cases per 100,000 at the time of the decision.
Portugal, along with 11 other destinations, was rated green by UK ministers just three weeks earlier.
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