UK plans easing lockdown, holiday bookings flood
As the government announced the roadmap for easing lockdown restriction, craving for travel Britons jumped on booking holiday flights.
On February 22, 2021, after a few months of strict lockdown, the UK government announced a four-step plan to gradually ease the restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plan was “cautious but irreversible” and at every step the easing would be led by “data not dates”. In the best case scenario, all the restrictions could be lifted on June 21, 2021.
According to Johnson, a review of international travel restrictions would be announced by April 12, 2021 at the earliest. Even without any guarantees for restored international travel, Britons jumped on the opportunity to start book summer holiday flights, especially to such sunny destinations as Greece, Spain and Turkey.
Low-cost carrier EasyJet said that bookings for this summer flights had jumped by more than 300% compared to a week ago and bookings for its summer holiday packages had increased by more than 600%. TUI UK’s bookings had surged 500%, while Jet2 saw an increase by more than 600%. EasyJet said most bookings were made for the months of July and August 2021.
Nevertheless, due to the new emerging variants of COVID-19, the UK is still on many countries' red list. On February 23, 2021, Spain extended the ban for UK arrivals until at least March 16, 2021. Spanish government said they were “looking to contain infections associated with the COVID variants as far as possible.”
Britain hopes to reopen international leisure travel as the vaccine rollout accelerates. Over 17.7 million people, or a quarter of the population, have already had a first dose of the vaccine and the government is considering installing vaccination passports.
Currently, UK’s airlines are among the hardest-hit carriers by travel restrictions in Europe. Beginning from February 15, 2021, passengers arriving from a “red list” country must quarantine in a state-approved hotel for 10 days, in addition to having proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to the flight.
On February 18, 2021, chief executives of British Airways, Easyjet, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair, and TUI wrote to UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking to include plans for the restart of international travel in a scheme for the easing of lockdown. The letter was also signed by the chiefs of Jet2, Loganair, and aviation body Airlines UK.
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