EasyJet has announced it is cutting flights after the government’s decision to impose quarantine restrictions for seven Greek islands.
The UK’s largest airline said it will reduce its schedule as “customer confidence to make travel plans has been negatively affected”.
This means it will have flown “slightly less” than the 40 per cent capacity it previously said it would operate between July and September.
Late on Monday afternoon, the government introduced a new regional approach to the quarantine policy.
From 4am on Wednesday, travellers arriving in England from Lesbos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini or Zakynthos (also known as Zante) must self-isolate for 14 days.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that, should infection rates differ from their mainland countries, islands can be added to or removed from the quarantine-exemption list.
EasyJet chief executive Johan 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 know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.
“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.”
In a statement issued on their website on Monday, easyJet said: “Due to a number of countries imposing quarantine restrictions, we understand that customers may wish to change their travel plans:
- If you are booked on a flight to or from a country on a quarantine list and due to fly within 14 days, you can now transfer your flight without a change fee by contacting our Customer Services Team here. Any requests must be made within seven days of the respective government announcing the quarantine restriction.
If your flight with us is more than 14 days away, our normal terms and conditions apply and you will be able to transfer your flight without a change fee online through Manage Bookings on our website or through the mobile app. You can make these changes directly and do not need to contact our Customer Services Team.”
Mr Lundgren is just one of many aviation and travel industry leaders calling on the government to commit to a coronavirus testing regime to reduce self-isolation requirements.
Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said the regional quarantine policy is “just scratching the surface”.
She said: “We must abandon wholesale ineffective, destructive and costly quarantines and replace them with rapid, cost-effective testing on departure at airports.
“The longer we wait, the more the ailing travel and tourism sector faces collapse.”
Mr Shapps said his department is “working actively on the practicalities of using testing to release people from quarantine earlier than 14 days”.
Meanwhile, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning that the government was exploring the options of arrivals testing at airports, but said such a system needed to be made “more sophisticated” before being implemented in the UK.
“It’s an attractive solution but it’s not currently one which works as well as we would want it to if we were going to apply it because only a relatively small number of people who later develop the virus would be caught by being tested immediately on arrival,” he said.
“If the model can be made more sophisticated in the months and weeks to come then it’s something that we could adopt but we want to make sure we don’t give people a false sense of security if they’ve been tested on arrival.”