Johan Lundgren says ‘late-summer bookings have performed better than expected’

EasyJet and BA bosses buoyed by late demand

Ian Taylor

EasyJet and British Airways parent IAG report UK quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain have not hit demand as much as feared despite the blow to travel’s restart. Industry leaders continue to lobby for


a relaxation of restrictions amid fears the bulk of the summer season to Spain and Portugal will be lost. Luxembourg was taken off the quarantine-exemption list last week and Belgium appeared set to follow amid a spike in Covid infections. However, easyJet chief

argued: “There is an urgent need to target quarantine.” He added: “The procedures are different throughout Europe. Some airports don’t require face masks. It’s confusing for customers.” A leading airline source said: “The

situation is more concerning now than two weeks ago. It looked like light at the end of the tunnel and the light is no longer there. “Stopping and starting creates


executive Johan Lundgren insisted: “People are flying to destinations where there are restrictions. People have not cancelled bookings to Spain. There has been an impact on new bookings, [but] only a handful swapped away from Spain so far. Late-summer bookings have performed better than expected.” EasyJet will expand capacity for August

and September to 40% of its original schedule, up from the 30% previously planned owing to “higher than expected demand”. Lundgren spoke on Tuesday as easyJet

reported a £325 million loss for the three months to June. IAG chief Willie Walsh noted at the

end of last week: “We were concerned the UK quarantine [on Spain] would impact on demand to travel elsewhere, [but] we’re not seeing that. We’re adding capacity to Greece because we see good demand. “We’re encouraged by the booking

profile in the UK.” Yet Lundgren said the restrictions on Spain had “created new uncertainty” and

uncertainty. It’s a fast-moving situation, but it’s difficult to see things changing in August. We could see countries coming off the list rather than going on it, and if we get more situations like Manchester, what will other countries say about the UK? We’re not hopeful on Spain. It

may be in the ‘too hard’ box.” A senior leisure industry source

agreed: “The priority is to press the government for a more consistent and sophisticated approach so we don’t have ‘switch on, switch off ’, which is difficult to make work. “If we could have a test on return,

it could be a game changer, even with quarantine in place. [But] the chance of advice changing even to the Spanish islands is slight. The incremental economic effect is not huge given the overall situation. It’s the reduction in momentum that’s important.” The airline source said: “Testing is the

logical way forward. [But] it’s a big piece of work. It could take a number of weeks. “The airline industry strongly supports

testing for high-risk countries [and wants] testing before departure. It doesn’t support

testing every passenger on arrival.” i Eastern Med demand, page 6 i Airport testing, back page

6 AUGUST 2020 5

PICTURES: Shutterstock; Steve Dunlop

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