EasyJet has reported a 337 per cent surge in new flight bookings within hours of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that international holidays could be allowed from May 17, 2021, at the earliest. The British low-cost airline has been closely monitoring consumer behaviour and flight search trends over the last few weeks with many eager holidaymakers researching flights and holidays but putting off actually booking tickets until there was more certainty.
Under England’s latest lockdown lifting timeline, international holidays could be allowed if the country’s successful vaccination programme continues to drive down new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations. The current ban on overseas holidays will only be eased following a government review which is due to publish a report in mid-April.
“We have consistently seen that there is pent up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the Government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for,” commented easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren on Monday night.
“While the summer may be a little while off, we will be working around the clock to ensure we will be ready to ramp up our flights to reconnect friends and family or take them on a long-awaited holiday to remember,” Lundgren continued.
The easyJet chief executive had joined airline leaders from the likes of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in urging Boris Johnson to set out a roadmap for the reopening of international travel. The industry has also called for bespoke financial support if borders remain closed for an extended period.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) cautiously welcomed Johnson’s timeline for reopening, saying it was looking forward to working with the British government on its review of easing travel restrictions.
In the last few weeks, England has imposed some of the toughest travel restrictions in the world. It is currently illegal to travel abroad for leisure and anyone arriving in the country must quarantine for 10-days. Travellers from 33 ‘Red List’ countries must also pay at least £1,750 to quarantine in a designated hotel. Everyone else must take two PCR tests on day 5 and day 8 after arrival.
Airlines and travel firms will be hoping that the lifting of a ban on international leisure travel will also come with an easing of isolation rules.
easyJet reported a spike in new holiday bookings to destinations including Malaga, Alicante and Palma in Spain, the Greek island of Crete and Faro in Portugal. The 630 per cent surge in holiday bookings came despite the fact that non-Spanish citizens are currently banned from travelling from the UK to Spain, that Greece is unlikely to allow travel without proof of vaccination and that Portugal is currently one of England’s ‘Red List’ countries.
easyJet, however, says customers are protected by a number of cancellation policies and that allow them to book now with confidence knowing that they can get their money back if lockdown restrictions are still in effect.
Hopeful of a busy summer season, easyJet recently opened up cabin crew recruitment for aircrew who had been laid-off during the first wave of the pandemic but the airline is currently only operating 10 per cent of its schedule as lockdown restrictions grip much of Europe.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.