LONDON: British airline easyJet said it expected to start to fly more from late May onwards and that by then most European countries should be open to British holidaymakers, painting an optimistic picture about the return of travel.
In Britain, easyJet’s biggest market, uncertainty remains about when travel can resume and which countries will feature on a green list of low-risk destinations. The government has said it will provide more information in early May and the earliest date for travel to restart is May 17.
EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said most of Europe would be open for travel this summer, shrugging off worries about a third wave of COVID-19 infections on the continent.
“I would expect that almost all major European countries, that by the time it comes to travel reopening, that most countries in Europe should be in that category,” he said of Britain’s green list.
Travel industry experts have been less optimistic, saying that green list travel could be restricted to Iceland, Malta and Israel, countries which have made more progress with vaccination programmes than Europe’s big leisure destinations like Spain, Italy and France.
EasyJet urged the government to publish its green list as soon as possible, saying that the big question its customers were asking was where they could go.
The airline also repeated criticism of the UK’s plan to make PCR tests for COVID-19 a requirement for travel to green list countries, saying the high cost of tests could dampen demand.
For the April to end-June quarter, easyJet said capacity would be at 20% of 2019 levels, but that would include lower levels in April and May before a jump in June.
Goodbody analysts said capacity could reach 35% to 40% in June.