Hope on the horizon as EasyJet sees summer bookings surge 250% from last year

Jan 20, 2021

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Although the U.K. is in its third national lockdown, people want to go on holiday. Those who are stuck in their homes are planning how they want to get away when it’s deemed safe — and legal — to do so.

EasyJet said this week that summer bookings through its holidays division are up 250% compared to last year. The airline’s CEO Johan Lundgren told the BBC that the jump in forward-looking bookings is a good sign.

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“We know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can,” Lundgren said. “We know there is pent up demand — we have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed, and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can.”

The boost in bookings for the traditionally popular summer holiday period is a good sign for the beleaguered aviation and travel industries. Since the start of the pandemic, the industries have suffered the most challenging period in their history.

Airlines expected to hunker down during the predicted drop in demand during the winter months, but that was made worse by the U.K.’s third national lockdown. Until at least mid-February, non-essential travel is illegal, as those in the U.K. have been told to stay home unless their travel is absolutely necessary.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel by way of a faster vaccination rollout and pent-up demand that people want to get away. And that demand is showing travel earlier than many expected. Lundgren said that the majority of new bookings are being made for May 2021.

U.K.-based holiday provider Habitat Escapes said that this week, the company has seen a 120% increase in bookings for summer 2021 — the majority of which for families.

“There’s a sense that people are wishing to make the most of quality time together when guidelines are eased, and this is reflected in the types of enquiries coming through,” said Habitat Escapes Director Red Paxton.

The rollout of vaccines coupled with the U.K.’s new pre-departure testing requirement have airlines hopeful that passengers will feel it’s safe to travel.

Related: Pre-departure testing and self-isolation for arrivals: Everything you need to know about travelling to the UK

As of 18 January, all arrivals into the U.K. are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result. The test must have been taken no more than 72 hours prior to scheduled departure.

However, in a blow to the travel industry as it stands, as of 18 January, the U.K. has suspended all travel corridors until at least mid-February. But Lundgren downplayed this, saying that the loss of travel corridors will not have a “significant impact” on EasyJet in the short-term, given the already-limited number of flights it was operating.

Related: Airlines slash UK operations amid third lockdown

At this time, all arrivals into the U.K. have to quarantine for 10 days. That timeline can be reduced if a passenger takes a COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine. If the test produces a negative result, the traveller can forgo the rest of their quarantine.

Industry executives have called on the government to have a plan in place for when travel restrictions can be eased. For many, that includes the reintroduction of the travel corridor approach to travel, which allowed those entering the U.K. from low-risk countries to do so without having to quarantine.

“We already know there’s a big difference between people’s willingness to sacrifice to go and travel if you have to quarantine for 10 days or 14 days, down to five days or even three days,” Lundgren said. “So it’s really, really important that, as part of the plan for recovery, the government also has the plan to unwind these restrictions that are in place.”

Featured photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

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