May 9, 2021

Knews

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EasyJet ready to ramp up flights for summer holiday season | easyJet

EasyJet has said it is ready to “ramp up” its operations during the summer holiday season as it prepares to offer more flights to passengers from late May, once Covid travel restrictions are eased.

The budget airline only expects to fly 20% of its 2019 capacity between April and June, with most European countries planning to resume flying at scale next month.

EasyJet’s shares climbed by more than 3% on Wednesday morning as investors shared the airline’s optimism about the upcoming return of international travel.

The carrier flew only 14% of its 2019 flight schedule between October 2020 and the end of March, while passenger numbers tumbled by 89% compared with the previous year.

EasyJet confirmed it expected to make a first-half loss before tax of between £690m and £730m for the six months to 31 March.

The airline said its results would be slightly ahead of analysts’ expectations as it had continued to cut costs during the winter season to reduce its cash burn.

The company said it was encouraged by the speed of the vaccination rollout in the UK, while it expected the European programme to pick up pace in the coming weeks. As a result, it believes it will be able to take passengers on holiday again during the summer.

EasyJet believes demand for travel will take off in Europe as restrictions are eased and said it would be able to ramp capacity up or down to meet demand from passengers.

EasyJet’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “We have the operational flexibility to rapidly increase flying and add destinations to match demand. EasyJet is ready to resume flying, prepared for the ramp-up and looking forward to being able to reunite people with their families or take them on leisure and business flights once again. As a result, we remain well positioned for the recovery this summer and beyond.”

Lundgren said he expected most European countries to be on the UK government’s green list, under England’s proposed traffic light system for travel.

The green, amber, and red lists for travel, which will be announced in the coming weeks, will dictate whether travellers will need to take Covid tests and whether they will be required to quarantine before and after their journeys.

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Travellers returning from the lowest-risk green list countries will not have to quarantine but will have to pay for PCR tests before departure and on arrival in England, which typically cost about £150-£250 a person.

Lundgren said the airline would continue to engage with the UK government to “ensure that the cost of the required testing is driven down so that it doesn’t risk turning back the clock and make travel too costly for some”.

He had warned this month that the high cost of PCR tests could exceed the cost of a standard easyJet ticket and make it difficult for some travellers to leave the country.