Airlines quickly ramp up summer schedules following green list announcement
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On Friday, the U.K. confirmed the classifications in its new traffic light approach to international travel. With the announcement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps detailed which countries Brits can visit without having to quarantine on return to the U.K.
The green, amber and red lists rank countries on several factors including infection and vaccination rates. Every three weeks, the lists are updated. To provide some extra convenience for travellers, there is also a green “watchlist,” indicating that a country might be moved off the green list in the near future.
With countries potentially moving back and forth, this creates an interesting challenge for airlines’ scheduling departments. As soon as a country moves to the green list, it’s expected that demand will surge. When a country is taken off, demand will potentially plummet. So how do airlines cope with this?
Only days after the first green list had been published, Virgin Atlantic announced two daily flights to Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV) this summer, up from four weekly flights before the announcement.
Nicholas Bettles, Virgin Atlantic’s Israel country manager, told The Times of Israel that the Tel Aviv to Heathrow route had become the third-most booked route in the airline’s network with bookings “soaring” on Saturday. This shows how much of an impact the green list announcement has and that airlines will likely adjust quickly to meet demand.
British Airways went ahead and announced extra flights to Faro, Portugal (FAO) from Birmingham (BHX) and Manchester (MAN) this summer before the announcement was even made after rumours that Portugal would possibly be on the green list. Ryanair followed suit by announcing it was adding 175,000 seats on routes from the U.K. to Portuguese destinations like Faro, Lisbon and Porto over the summer, according to Simple Flying.
Low-cost carrier Wizz Air, meanwhile, has announced it will resume four flights to green list countries as off this month. The airline will resume routes to Tel Aviv, Reykjavik, Gibraltar, Faro and Lisbon.
“The team welcomes the announcement from the UK Government on the green list countries for the restart of international travel,” Wizz Air U.K. Managing Director Owain Jones said. “We are prepared to ramp up operations quickly when restrictions ease, with the recent delivery of four brand new A321neo aircraft and the expansion of our U.K. network.”
These events indicate that airlines have been eagerly awaiting to see where demand might pop up in upcoming months. As a traveller, you should be aware of this process and expect extra flights to be added to destinations quickly after they make it to the green list.
Featured photo by NurPhoto/Getty Images.
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