European travel industry relies on UK holidaymakers to lead tourism rebound | To travel

Hopes that Britain’s big getaway would be possible this summer grew on Wednesday, with easyJet predicting most of Europe would be open to travel and British Airways confident on routes to the United States, despite continued uncertainty.

The pandemic-battered European travel industry is counting on British holidaymakers to lead a tourism rebound this summer. After one of the fastest vaccination programs in the world, Britons could be allowed to travel from the end of May.

But over the past month, a third wave of coronavirus infections in mainland Europe has cast doubt on the exceptional return of travel.

The UK government disappointed airlines and consumers last Friday by failing to say when travel might resume and which countries would be on its green list of low-risk destinations.

But easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren ignored his concerns on Wednesday, telling reporters he believed most of Europe would be open to the British by May 17, the earliest date that the government said travel could resume.

“I would expect almost all major European countries, when travel reopens, most European countries to be in this category,” he said of Britain’s green list .

Meanwhile, British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said there was an “immediate opportunity” to open routes to the United States, given the rapid pace of vaccine deployment in both countries. .

The two countries ‘reflecting more or less’ on vaccinations mean they should be able to ‘lead the way’ in terms of openness, ”he said during CAPA Live, an event of the online industry.

But UK Aviation Secretary Robert Courts said on Wednesday that while the government wanted to unblock travel, it could not yet offer more clarity to airlines.

“It would not be fair for me to speculate on which countries in which regions of the world are likely to be on which list,” he told a parliamentary committee. “It’s too early to tell yet.”

The government will give more details in early May, he said.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye was also more cautious, predicting a “patchy” reopening of travel with long-haul travel more likely.

“There is less chance of being able to fly to Europe in the next few months than there is of flying to the United States or Israel or the Caribbean or Singapore,” he said at the meeting. another industry event.

The rollout of vaccination in Europe has lagged behind the UK and the resurgence of cases in some countries is due to what Britain sees as “worrisome variants” in terms of the risk they pose for the effectiveness of the vaccine.

The UK government’s requirement for two Covid-19 tests to allow travel to Green List countries, which includes the more expensive “gold standard” PCR test that helps identify variants of concern, has given Lundgren reassurance that Europe would be open.

While easyJet opposes testing for low-risk greenlist countries, Lundgren says if the government sticks to its two-test plan, “I don’t see why you wouldn’t have a majority. European countries in there. “

Airlines fear tests which may cost more than 100 pounds ($ 137.52), or more than some of easyJet’s ticket prices, will deter travelers, though the government has said it is trying to reduce the costs.

British Airways said on Wednesday its customers can now book a cheaper 60-pound PCR test from supplier Randox.

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