EasyJet: Flyers frustrated at changing quarantine

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EasyJet says it is expecting to fly fewer passengers because consumer confidence has been hit by UK coronavirus quarantine measures.

The airline expanded its schedule to 40% of its normal capacity last month, but now says it expects that to fall.

“Customer confidence to make travel plans has been negatively affected” by “constantly evolving government restrictions”, EasyJet said.

“We know our customers are as frustrated as we are,” it added.

On Monday, the government added seven Greek islands to the quarantine list which means people return to England from these locations will have to isolate for 14 days.

Johan Lundgren, the boss of EasyJet, told the BBC on Monday that the latest change to the quarantine rules – which means islands can be treated differently from their mainland countries if infection rates differ – was “too little, too late”, as the peak of the summer holiday season had passed.

“This is something we have argued for a long time – it should not have been a blanket instrument when it comes to quarantine. It should be based on risk and on a much more targeted approach,” he said.

In the airline’s latest statement, Mr Lundgren said: “Following the imposition of additional quarantine restrictions to seven Greek islands and the continued uncertainty this brings for customers, demand is now likely to be further impacted and therefore lower than previously anticipated,”

“We now expect to fly slightly less than 40% of our planned schedule over the current quarter.”

The airline said this would be achieved by “continued schedule thinning as we continue to focus on profitable flying”.

Quarantine ‘unpredictable’

EasyJet, like other airlines, has been hit hard by lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world, with many announcing job cuts.

It has previously said it will cut up to 30% of its workforce – about 4,500 jobs – as it struggles with the effects of the pandemic.

EasyJet said that in view of “the continued level of uncertainty”, it would not be maintaining any forward-looking financial guidance for this financial year or the next.

“We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions,” said Mr Lundgren.

“We called on the government to opt for a targeted, regionalised and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.”

He added that it was difficult to overstate the impact that “the pandemic and associated government policies” had had on the whole industry.

Mr Lundgren called on the government to provide “sector-specific support for aviation”, with a package of measures including the removal of Air Passenger Duty for at least 12 months.

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