Easyjet chief blasts UK travel confusion: Airline will fly fewer planes at start of the summer than planned
EasyJet blasted the confusion over summer holidays as it racked up a mammoth £701million loss.
The airline will fly fewer planes at the start of the summer than planned amid mixed messages from the Government over its traffic light system for international travel.
The introduction of the red, amber and green list rules was supposed to clarify what holidaymakers and other travellers could do. Instead, it has triggered widespread anger and confusion.
Mixed messaging: Easyjet’s Johan Lundgren (pictured) says the Government is being too cautious on travel
While it is legal to travel to countries on the amber list – so long as you self-isolate at home for ten days on return and take two Covid tests – ministers have advised against it.
With countries on the amber list including France, Spain, Italy and Greece as well as Eastern Europe and the Nordic states, the travel industry has reacted with fury.
Easyjet chief executive Johan Lundgren said it was ‘absolutely legal to travel to amber list countries’.
He said the airline would now operate just 15 per cent of flights between April and June – down from the 20 per cent it had planned.
Lundgren said: ‘The messaging has been very confusing to say the least.
‘They aren’t following their own criteria for restarting travel and making it confusing in terms of if people should travel.’
He also urged the Government to move Greece and Spain to the green list, which has just a dozen countries – including Portugal.
Lundgren added: ‘No doubt the Government is taking a much more cautious approach and we don’t believe this is backed up by the latest data. Greece and Spain in our view could be safely added to the green list.’
He hopes the airline can ramp up its flight schedule later in the summer as Europe also looks to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated people.
Lundgren said the airline was ready to ‘flex up quickly’ to use 90 per cent of its planes if there is enough demand.
His comments came as the carrier posted a £701million loss for the six months ending in March.
Revenue fell 90 per cent over the period to £240million, after passenger numbers collapsed.
The record loss underlines the scale of the damage dealt to the airline industry by the Covid-19 crisis.
Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets, said: ‘Easyjet is heading for its second successive annual loss.
‘At the beginning of the year there was a great deal of optimism, that with the vaccine program well advanced there might be a semblance of a return to normal as the summer approached.
‘This optimism now looks rather misplaced and along with the rest of the airline sector it is still no nearer to knowing when they can expect to resume any semblance of a normal service, with most of their planes grounded due to travel restrictions.’
Easyjet also revealed it is still burning through £5.5million of cash every day while 85 per cent of services remain grounded.
But the airline has £2.9billion in total liquidity to last it through the uncertainty having raised £5.5billion since the start of the pandemic.
On Monday budget rival Ryanair posted the biggest annual loss in its history after being battered by travel restrictions.
The Irish airline’s boss Michael O’Leary said: ‘It is a traumatic loss for an airline that has been consistently profitable for our 35-year history.’