EasyJet increases flights to 60 per cent of pre-Covid levels with more services to amber list countries Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus
- EasyJet expects to fly around 60 per cent of its pre-pandemic flight programme
- Carrier boosting flights to 74 countries on amber list such as Spain and Greece
- Revenues in latest quarter rose to £212.9million from just £7.2million a year ago
EasyJet is increasing flights to around 60 per cent of its pre-pandemic programme with more services to so-called amber list destinations over the summer quarter amid easing travel restrictions and rising demand.
It said the reopening of travel in Continental Europe and easing of restrictions for the fully vaccinated in the UK will drive a marked rebound in demand in its fourth quarter to September 30.
The carrier said it is boosting flights to 74 countries on the amber list – such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus – after the Government announced on July 8 that fully vaccinated passengers will be able to fly back from these countries without quarantine.
It is also heavily focusing its schedule on continental European routes, with Europe having reopened its travel faster than the UK.
EasyJet said that, as a result, two-thirds of its bookings are now coming from Europe, compared with the usual 50-50 split.
EasyJet has said it expects to fly around 60 per cent of its pre-pandemic flight programme over the summer quarter, up from 17 per cent in the previous three months, thanks to easing travel restrictions and rising demand
The carrier said it is boosting flights to 74 countries on the so-called amber list – such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus – after the Government announced on July 8 that fully vaccinated passengers will be able to fly back from these countries without quarantine
EasyJet’s trading update for the three months to June 30 showed it narrowed headline pre-tax losses by 8.2 per cent to £318.3million, which was in line with its expectations, as cost-cutting helped limit the ongoing hit from the pandemic.
It saw passenger numbers rise to three million in the three months to June 30 against a lockdown-hit third quarter a year earlier, when its fleet had been grounded for all but two weeks, flying just 117,000 seats.
Revenues in the latest quarter rose to £212.9million from just £7.2million a year ago. The group said its cash burn was reduced to £55million, with cost-cutting on track to deliver around £500million of savings over the full year.
It also paid out a further £122million of customer refunds in the quarter, taking its total refund bill to £1.2billion so far during the pandemic.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘During this quarter we have successfully managed through the continued challenges of the pandemic, using our operational responsiveness to capture demand while focusing on cost control and minimising cash burn.
‘So, while we know the road to recovery from the pandemic isn’t going to be a straight line, we are ready to compete using these new-found strengths with everything we have learned, leaving a long-term, positive imprint on the airline, transformed ready for the post-pandemic era.’
It comes as a Heathrow Airport border area was thrown into chaos last night with e-gate closures sparking 90 minute-long queues. It is believed just four Border Force officials were left manning Terminal 5 passport hall last night, when as many as 2,000 passengers arrived.
It is believed just four Border Force officials were left manning Terminal 5 passport hall last night when as many as 2,000 passengers arrived. Picture: Passengers queue at Heathrow Airport last night
Passengers at the airport say the e-gates were closed last night, while there were ‘just four’ Border Force staff working
Twitter users last night slammed the lack of border staff, saying they had spent up to an hour and 45 minutes queuing at Terminal 5’s passport hall
US officials urge Americans not to travel to UK due to spike in Delta variant
The US State Department is advising Americans not to travel to the United Kingdom as the Delta variant of Covid-19 surges.
The move by the State Department means that Britain is now at the highest warning level possible – ‘do not travel’ – on a four-part ranking.
First is ‘exercise normal precautions’; second is ‘exercise increased caution’; then comes ‘reconsider travel’.
The warning for Britain has fluctuated between Level 3 ‘reconsider travel’, and Level 4 ‘do not travel’, several times this year already.
In May, the US government had lowered the U.K. to a Level 3 advisory rating.
The latest upgrade comes as COVID cases across the U.K. soared by 52 per cent week-on-week, with the number of deaths falling slightly.
The U.K. on Sunday recorded 48,161 COVID cases – up from the 31,772 cases recorded last Sunday.
The State Department’s decision comes hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its own advice, recommending that U.S. citizens do not visit the U.K.
One person caught up in the border chaos said it was ‘totally unacceptable’, while another exasperated passenger described the situation as ‘ridiculous’.
Twitter users last night slammed the lack of border staff, saying they had spent up to an hour and 45 minutes queuing at Terminal 5’s passport hall.
They said: ‘Hi Heathrow. Is it because of the pingdemic that there’s thousands at border control and maybe 3 staff checking us in?!
‘By my calculations I’m here until 2am. There’s babies toddlers & elderly in the queue.’
They said in a follow-up tweet: ‘There is a palette of water cans in the middle of the queue where people go help themselves as they go since we’re all here for hours.
‘Kids crying. The occasional shouts for opening more gates. People about to miss their connections. It’s such a s***show.
‘No e gates tonight of course. This is dumb,’ before saying: ‘MADE IT. Only 1h45 in a queue that could have been completely avoided with proper staffing.’
Another wrote: ‘So many people – including elderly and young children waiting for the border police to check their documents…. why there not more officers here?
‘Totally unacceptable for an airport like Heathrow. This is so late now, hope to catch the last train.’
It is not clear why the e-gates were shut last night. However, Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy last night tweeted that a Border Force officer had told him that the new gates had not been updated to reflect new travel rules brought in as part of ‘Freedom Day’.
Heathrow, responding to another Twitter user who had complained about the queues, said that they were ‘working with Border Force to reduce queuing times’.
It comes as the Government yesterday eased travel restrictions by dropping the requirement for double-jabbed passengers arriving in the UK from amber-list countries.
As of 4am, passengers from Amber List countries will no longer have to undertake an up-to-day 10-day home quarantine.
The rule does not apply to Amber List France, which was put on what is being dubbed the ‘Amber Plus’ list due to rising cases of the Beta (South African) variant.
Heathrow, responding to another Twitter user who had complained about the queues, said that they were ‘working with Border Force to reduce queuing times’
The rules were last night branded ‘excessive’ by a French minister Clement Beaune, who told French channel BFM TV: ‘It seems to us that the measures taken by the UK are not entirely based on scientific foundations.’
Meanwhile, the Balearic islands were also moved from the UK’s quarantine free Green List to the Amber List.
The sudden move – which came just weeks after the Balearics were moved on to the Green List – sparked unvaccinated Britons holidaying in the likes of Mallorca and Ibiza to make a mad dash for the airports in order to make it back to the UK before the rule change.
Bulgaria and Croatia went the other way, going from amber to green, along with Taiwan and Hong Kong.
However Bulgaria has since banned UK holidaymakers by adding Britain to its ‘red zone’ list – which means only essential journeys can be made.
French minister says Britain’s strict rules insisting double-jabbed arrivals must isolate are ‘excessive’ – and insists the Beta variant is under control in his country
Strict rules on arrivals in the UK from France were branded ‘excessive’ by a French minister yesterday amid a furious Whitehall row about who took the controversial decision.
Clement Beaune said the UK’s decision to insist double-jabbed travellers must isolate was not based on scientific evidence.
And he insisted the Beta variant – blamed for the last-minute U-turn on relaxing quarantine for the fully vaccinated – was under control in France.
European affairs minister Mr Beaune told French channel BFM TV: ‘It seems to us that the measures taken by the UK are not entirely based on scientific foundations. We find them excessive.
‘This decision is based on the circulation of the Beta variant, the South African variant, which is in reality now well under control.’
It has been claimed that Britain’s decision to exclude France from the new relaxed rules for double-jabbed arrivals from amber list countries had been based on figures including those from a remote French overseas territory where the Beta variant is more common.
The Indian Ocean island of Reunion recorded 1,450 cases of Covid-19 between July 3 and 9, of which 91 per cent were the Beta and Gamma variants.
The Beta variant has accounted for about 5 per cent of cases in mainland France over recent months, according to Downing Street, but it is feared to be more resistant to vaccines.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said yesterday: ‘The AstraZeneca vaccine appears to be less effective against the Beta variant, that’s why we need to be very cautious about that.
‘What the data publicly available in France shows, and this data does not include Reunion, is that over the past three months on average the Beta variant accounts for around 5 per cent of cases. And that’s a relatively high prevalence which potentially poses a risk to the UK and that’s why it was right to move swiftly.’
Clement Beaune said the UK’s decision to insist double-jabbed travellers must isolate was not based on scientific evidence
It has been claimed that Britain’s decision to exclude France from the new relaxed rules for double-jabbed arrivals from amber list countries had been based on figures including those from a remote French overseas territory where the Beta variant is more common (pictured: Heathrow, June 3)
It comes as the US yesterday upgraded the UK to the highest risk level and warned Americans not to travel here.
Washington informed citizens yesterday there is a ‘very high level of Covid-19’ in Britain.
Meanwhile, a blame game continues in the UK Government over which minister decided late on Friday to change the rules for France, ruining thousands of Britons’ trips and bringing fresh anguish to the struggling travel industry.
It is thought that Boris Johnson, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and Health Secretary Sajid Javid were behind the move.
The Department of Health is said to have overreacted to Covid figures in France. On Sunday another 12,532 cases were reported, compared with 48,161 in the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is thought not to have been invited to the meeting at which France was effectively placed in a new ‘amber-plus’ category, just hours after the review of the traffic light system was announced.
A Whitehall source described the decision-making process as ‘shambolic’. Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, the UK’s largest travel association, said: ‘There’s a lack of transparency around how decisions are being made’, adding: ‘With France there was no indication about the change of direction… And that’s likely to impair consumer confidence to book until they see this settling down into a much more predictable system.’
The Department of Health said last night: ‘The Joint Biosecurity Centre has assessed that France is a high-risk Covid-19 destination due to the circulation of variants of concern, most notably the Beta variant, which presents the greatest risk for UK vaccine escape.’
Get us back on runway to let Global Britain finally take off, writes British Airways chairman SEAN DOYLE
By SEAN DOYLE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF BRITISH AIRWAYS, FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
The British public have abided by every rule imposed on them since the first lockdown back in March 2020. For the past 18 months, we have patiently waited for the freedom we were told a successful vaccination programme would bring.
A vaccination programme that turned out to be world-leading, protecting us all from serious illness and death. A vaccination programme that was hailed as an example for other countries to follow.
But no one is following us now. In fact, other countries are powering away. Over the past 18 months, tens of millions of us made sacrifices – agreeing to be separated from our loved ones, some of whom we would never see again.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle speaks at a news conference at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021
No wonder we’re all so confused by the constant changes in the Government’s approach. It feels like one set of rules apply in one area of life and another set of rules in another
My inbox remains full of emails from customers who still cannot travel to see their family and friends, take a holiday or do business because of the restrictions imposed on their freedom. All of our lives have been put on hold – lives, that, according to the Government’s Freedom Day, we should now be able to continue, sensibly assessing risk for ourselves.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly praised the UK’s vaccine rollout as an enabler for Global Britain – a way of putting the UK back on the map and taking economic advantage of the great progress we’ve made.
As Freedom Day approached, the Government indicated that it was up to us now to take personal responsibility for our actions, assessing the risk ourselves and acting sensibly. But the decisions in relation to travel are the exact opposite – the goalposts are constantly shifting, leaving none of us with the certainty we need to plan our lives and our businesses.
No wonder we’re all so confused by the constant changes in the Government’s approach. It feels like one set of rules apply in one area of life and another set of rules in another.
The vaccination programme should have given us the confidence to get back in the air, but we remain largely in a holding pattern thanks to the lack of transparency in decision-making.
Countries have been on the green list, off the green list, moved without notice to the amber list – and then, on Friday, another last-minute change saw France become the only country on the amber list to have to follow the original rules pre-July 19. Meanwhile, our European neighbours are way ahead.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly praised the UK’s vaccine rollout as an enabler for Global Britain – a way of putting the UK back on the map and taking economic advantage of the great progress we’ve made
Livelihoods depend on the travel industry which directly supports 1.5million British jobs and a much wider import and export industry – one the UK depends upon
Travel bookings in Germany are currently at 60 per cent of 2019 levels and in France 48 per cent. In the UK they are 16 per cent – the lowest of all the European markets.
FIgures like these show just how impossibly difficult our customers are finding the rapid and inexplicable changes in rules for travel.
The reality is that life is not returning to normal and our freedom to travel is curtailed. We have every reason to have faith in the vaccines’ ability to combat coronavirus variants. Scientists say the vaccine data is encouraging and they are able to prevent serious illness, hospitalisation and death against the South African Beta variant.
We and our customers deserve a transparent and consistent way forward to plan with certainty. If not now, when will individuals be trusted to take personal responsibility?
Livelihoods depend on the travel industry which directly supports 1.5million British jobs and a much wider import and export industry – one the UK depends upon.
Global Britain is stalling. If we want it to take off, get us on the runway.
Sean Doyle is chairman and chief executive of British Airways.
Source: Read Full Article