Government’s traffic light system may give red light for many families this summer
When easyJet was founded a quarter of a century ago it made travel accessible for all. Launched with the slogan of ‘flights for less than a pair of jeans’ we have continued to live up to this promise 25 years on with starting fares today still from around £20.
Before the pandemic we were flying around 100 million customers paying £50 per flight on average. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of the Government’s traffic light system for travel looks likely to make travelling for a well-deserved holiday or to see family and loved ones this summer much more expensive. This means that while the ban on travel might be lifted it would be in name only and holidays may not be on the cards for many families.
This is because even for travel from ‘green’ countries the government is planning to require people to take two Covid tests with one being a more expensive PCR test. This is going to add a lot of cost, and we just don’t see why this is needed for travel from low risk countries.
We are not pushing for the reopening of travel at any cost – we need to protect the NHS and vaccination programme. We have worked with expert scientists to understand what would be needed to safely restart travel. But where it is safe to do so we should reopen travel, to allow people to see their families, work and yes, go on a hard-earned holiday, particularly after the last year.
"We will continue to engage with Government to focus on the evidence
and demonstrate that unrestricted travel from low-risk countries is possible.
In the meantime, we will work with partners to do what we can to bring down the price of testing."
The success of the UK’s vaccination programme is the key to unlocking safe travel. It breaks the link between COVID and hospitalisations. This means that restriction free travel should be enabled to low risk countries as travel would not increase the number of hospitalisations.
Restrictions will still be needed for countries where Covid levels are very high and where there is a real risk that new variants could undermine the vaccine programme. We recognise this and support these restrictions. But we see no scientific reason why travel from a low risk green country should require testing, just as a flight from Scotland to England does not require testing.
Currently the proposed requirement for two tests could add on upwards of £500 for a family of four. This would effectively be a return to flying being only something that the rich can afford and put it out of reach for many hard-working families at a time when so many need a break. The Government has rightly said it will work to drive these costs down and in the meantime we will also work with our partners to do what we can to reduce prices but I appeal to the Prime Minister to re-examine the data.
As the rest of British society and economy opens up it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low risk countries, differently. We are ready and able to ramp up to take customers away.
So we will be lobbying Government to try to ensure travel isn’t out of reach for millions this summer, asking them to rethink and give the green light for families to travel to the lowest risk countries.
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