EasyJet cuts flights to Greek islands due to quarantine rules
By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
EasyJet has announced it is cutting flights following the UK Government’s decision to impose quarantine restrictions for seven Greek islands.
The UK’s largest airline said it will reduce its schedule as “customer confidence to make travel plans has been negatively affected”.
This means it will have flown “slightly less” than the 40% of pre-coronavirus pandemic capacity it previously said it would operate between July and September.
From 4am on Wednesday travellers arriving in England from Lesbos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini or Zakynthos (also known as Zante) must self-isolate for 14 days.
This is part of the Government’s new regional approach to quarantine policy.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that, should infection rates differ from their mainland countries, islands can be added to or removed from the quarantine-exemption list.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “Following the imposition of additional quarantine restrictions to seven Greek islands and the continued uncertainty this brings for customers, demand is now likely to be further impacted and therefore lower than previously anticipated.
“We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.
“We called on the Government to opt for a targeted, regionalised and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.”
The news pushed the low-cost airline’s shares down by around 6% as markets opened in London on Tuesday morning.
Mr Lundgren is one of a host of aviation and travel industry leaders calling on the Government to commit to a coronavirus testing regime to reduce self-isolation requirements.
Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said the regional quarantine policy is “just scratching the surface”.
She said: “We must abandon wholesale ineffective, destructive and costly quarantines and replace them with rapid, cost-effective testing on departure at airports.
“The longer we wait, the more the ailing travel and tourism sector faces collapse.”
A spokesman for British Airways’ owner IAG criticised the Government for being “too slow” in decision-making, urging ministers to “get on with it” on testing.
“For most families summer is now over and the damage to the industry and the economy is done,” the spokesman said.
“On testing, we need to get on with it. We are way behind other countries on what has to be a more nuanced approach.”
Mr Shapps said his department is “working actively on the practicalities of using testing to release people from quarantine earlier than 14 days”.