easyJet chief declares end in sight for air travel testing

THE boss of easyJet has flagged the airline’s view that testing for Covid across its network “should soon become a thing of the past” as it reported a jump in bookings following this week’s move by the Scottish and UK Governments to removing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people arriving in the country.

But the budget airline warned that Omicron would continue to have an impact on short-term performance in the second quarter.

The company underlined its expectation of a “strong summer ahead” as it reported this morning that it had nearly halved first-quarter losses, while “significantly” reducing its cash burn.

The outbreak of the Omicron variant “paused” the momentum it had built in October and November when load factors strengthened and rose above 80 per cent for both months. Load factors declined in December amid renewed travel restrictions to tackle Omicron, with easyJet stating that the variant would have an impact on its quarter-two performance.

However, the removal by the UK Government of pre-departure testing on Janaury 5 resulted in a “sustained step change improvement in booking volumes”.

EasyJet added that the subsequent decision to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated people arriving in the UK from February 11 boosted business further, “which we expect will continue to have a positive impact on sales going forward”.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on 5 January, which have been sustained and then given a further boost from the UK Government’s decision earlier this week to remove all testing requirements.

“We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past. 

We see a strong summer ahead, with pent up demand that will see easyJet returning to near 2019 levels of capacity with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well.

“We remain confident that easyJet will continue to win customers and are excited about our plans for the summer as we identify further opportunities at our key bases which, alongside our step-changed ancillary offering, will deliver strong, sustainable shareholder returns.”

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