Airlines and airports have welcomed the news that the UK has eased some of its travel rules for vaccinated passengers, with some reporting surging bookings.
The UK announced on September 17, 2021, that fully vaccinated travelers would no longer need a pre-departure test before arriving in England from October 4, 2021. Transport minister Grant Shapps also said the PCR test that travelers need to take on day 2 of their stay would be replaced with a cheaper lateral flow test from “later” in October.
The traffic light system, which has been the subject of legal action by airlines and airports, has also been replaced with a single red list, requiring hotel quarantine, and simplified measures for other countries.
In addition, popular holiday destinations such as Turkey and the Maldives have been removed from the red list.
Budget airline easyJet said it saw bookings surge “within hours”, with beach destinations in Portugal and Spain popular choices for the October 2021 school vacation period.
“Every time restrictions have been relaxed or removed we have seen pent up demand and this is no exception,” Chief Commercial Officer Sophie Dekkers said in a statement on September 18, 2021. “We have seen a huge surge in bookings since the move by the government to disband the traffic light system, take away the pre-departure test and remove popular summer sun destinations from the Red list.”
easyJet said it therefore planned to add a further 51,000 seats for departures from the UK to beach destinations for October 2021. It is also seeing “strong early demand” for ski destinations, including Geneva in Switzerland, for New Year 2022.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of vacation specialist Jet2.com and Jet2 holidays, welcomed the new approach and said the company would restart flights to Antalya and Dalaman in Turkey from September 23, 2021.
“We have seen demand step up over the last few days, and there has been an immediate and massive surge in bookings for flights and package holidays on the back of this welcome news for holidaymakers in England,” Heapy commented in a statement on September 17, 2021.
Scandinavian budget carrier Norwegian also reported more interest in travel.
“We have seen a surge in interest on Norwegian.com for travel to our popular Scandinavian winter destinations in light of the recent UK Government announcement of the easing of testing requirements for fully vaccinated passengers,” Philip Allport, director of International Communications at Norwegian, said on September 20, 2021.
London Gatwick airport described the easing of restrictions as a “significant” step.
“We know there is significant pent-up demand for travel and our staff, restaurants, cafes and bars are ready to welcome back passengers over the coming months,” Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport said in a statement.