UK could be left behind rest of Europe on travel, easyJet boss warns

posted on 6th May 2021 by Eddie Saunders
UK could be left behind rest of Europe on travel, easyJet boss warns

By Edward Thicknesse,

The boss of Easyjet has warned that the UK could be left behind the rest of Europe if the government approves travel to only a small handful of countries from 17 May.

Tomorrow ministers will lay out the initial list of destinations that will be on the UK’s green list for travel from the middle of this month.

Although some countries, like Israel, Portugal, and some of the Greek and Spanish islands are expected to be on the list, major holiday destinations like mainland Spain and Greece are not set to be included.

Such a decision would be a major blow to budget carrier easyJet, which depends on the shorthaul tourism market for a hefty proportion of its trade.

Speaking at an FT conference, Johan Lundgren, the airline’s chief executive, said it would be ironic that the “UK, which has been the most advanced when it comes to the rollout of the vaccination programme, is actually going to find themselves left behind.”

“I think this is going to need to change, it’s going to need to change very rapidly,” he said.

Even those travelling to green list countries will need to take two Covid-19 tests on their return – one prior to arrival, and one on the second day after returning.

With PCR tests currently costing around £60, such a costly system is another threat to airlines desperate for respite after the worst 12 months in aviation history.

And hopes that a vaccine passport system could replace the need for tests for those already inoculated took a blow last night when Downing Street revealed there had been delays in making tweaks to the NHS app to display proof of vaccination.

Ministers will review the list again in June, raising the possibility that more countries will be added – but any delay in getting a full summer programme going could be critical for airlines and travel firms.