EasyJet: Two test travel plan would be too expensive

The boss of EasyJet has said testing requirements under a proposed “traffic light” system for international travel would be too expensive.

Under the system, no isolation would be necessary on return to the UK from so-called “green” countries.

But pre-departure and post-arrival tests would be required, potentially costing up to £200 each.

Johan Lundgren said: “You wouldn’t open up international travel for everyone, but only those who can afford it.”

Mr Lundgren told the BBC’s Today programme that the cost of getting the tests would exceed a typical EasyJet fare.

On Sunday, plans for a risk-based system to restart foreign travel were outlined, in which countries would be classified as “green”, “amber” or “red” based on their infection rates and vaccination coverage.

However, while the prime minister said he was “hopeful” that non-essential foreign travel could begin again on 17 May, he added that more data was needed before a firm decision could be taken.

Mr Lundgren said: “If you are ticking all of those boxes to become a green destination… [Multiple tests] don’t make sense to me and it would add to cost and complexities.”

He said that the testing requirement for those countries was “concerning”, but added that he still expected holidays in the summer months of July and August would be able to go ahead.

Scientists and ministers recently warned that holidays to destinations such as France, where Covid cases are rising, are “unlikely”. But Mr Lundgren said: “There’s a huge amount of pressure building up now in these countries to get going and make sure they can follow the example of the UK in its vaccine rollout.”

Other travel industry figures also called for clarity following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement on lockdown restrictions easing.

The Business Travel Association said the announcement was “beyond disappointing” and called for “a clear pathway to international travel and trade”.

Its chief executive, Clive Wratten, said moves to open borders had “once again been kicked down the road”.

“The business travel industry continues to be crippled by today’s lack of movement,” he added.

The boss of travel firm Thomas Cook, Alan French, also told the BBC’s Wake Up to Money that a lack of clarity around what type of tests might be required for passengers and when they would need to be taken was a let-down.

He said that overall, there were “glimmers of good news”, in that the earliest date for travel resuming on 17 May was not pushed back. “But actually, the details were missing and that was disappointing,” he said.

‘Disappointed’

On Monday, Mr Johnson said he did not want to see coronavirus re-imported from abroad and urged people to wait for a report from the Global Travel Taskforce on 12 April.

But Gemma Antrobus, owner of independent travel company Haslemere Travel, warned that business owners like herself faced a difficult path.

“Disappointed is putting it mildly. Where we hoped confidence would start to pick up, and more people would be interested in booking holidays… that just won’t come this week.”

She added that some customers had now moved bookings for holidays five times now amid changing restrictions.

“Every week we don’t have that confidence from consumers, business owners like myself just wonder what lies ahead.”

EasyJet to charge for overhead luggage lockers

EasyJet customers who want to use overhead luggage lockers will have to buy more expensive tickets.

In a move which provoked criticism on social media, Easyjet said the changes to its luggage policy will start on 10 February.

Customers who don’t buy the more expensive tickets will be restricted to putting a small carry-on bag under their seat.

Easyjet said the changes would improve punctuality.

But some customers reacted with dismay on Twitter, with one calling it an “absolutely terrible move”.

“Like Ryanair, [they are] monetising every opportunity in a race to the bottom,” they said.

‘It is not right’

Another accused the airline of changing the conditions of their ticket after they had bought it.

“I imagine there is some small letter in the terms to allow you to do it, but it is not right is it?”

But some customers welcomed the move, saying it would free up storage space.

Currently, all customers are allowed to fly with a cabin bag measuring up to 56 x 45 x 25cm, enabling them to put small wheelie suitcases into overhead lockers.

But under the new rules, passengers who want to travel with an additional bag of this size as hand luggage must buy a more expensive ticket such as an Up Front or Extra Legroom seat. Prices range from £7.99 more expensive than a standard fare, upwards.

People who also buy a more expensive Flexi fare or are members of the carrier’s frequent flyer scheme will also continue to be allowed to take one small and one large item of hand luggage with them, subject to space on board.

EasyJet customers with an existing booking for travel from February 10 who do not want to pay more will be able to check in a larger cabin bag in the aircraft hold free of charge.

Easyjet check-in
image captionEasyjet previously used its luggage allowance to differentiate it from competitors

Robert Carey, chief commercial and customer officer for EasyJet said: “Punctuality is important to our customers and we know that if they have their bags placed into the hold at the gate due to the limited space onboard this can cause flight delays, and it can be frustrating for them too.

“Our new policy will improve boarding and punctuality for everyone, as well as give our customers certainty of what they will have with them onboard.”

Pandemic effects

Easyjet previously used its luggage allowance to differentiate it from competitors.

Ryanair limits passengers to one small item of hand luggage without an extra fee, while British Airways’ cheapest fares include one large and one small item of hand luggage.

Airlines have been hit hard by coronavirus crisis travel restrictions, and have been looking for ways to cut costs.

In November Easyjet reported its first annual loss in the airline’s 25-year history.

The airline made a loss of £1.27bn for the year to 30 September as revenues more than halved.

EasyJet expects to fly at just 20% of normal capacity into next year.

Drone nearly hit Manchester Easyjet plane window at 8,000ft

A packed Easyjet plane “narrowly missed” being hit by a drone flying at 8,000ft over Greater Manchester, an air safety report has revealed.

The UK Airprox Board, which monitors drone incidents, said the device passed “very close” to the cockpit window as it flew over Ashton-Under-Lyne.

It rated the incident on 4 September in its highest risk category.

The report added that a “definite risk of collision existed” and “providence played a major part in the incident.” 

Black drone
image captionFlying a drone above 400ft (120m) is banned under UK law

The pilot of the Airbus A320 which was flying from Manchester to Athens described the drone as being 0.5m (1.6ft) long with an estimated 10kg weight, the report said.

The jet carrying 134 passengers was flying at about 8,000ft which is 20 times higher than the legal limit to fly a drone because of the risk of a collision with a piloted aircraft.

An Easyjet spokesman said: “We are aware of the report and fully supported the investigation by providing all requested information.

“Easyjet recognises the growing popularity of drones and therefore welcomes efforts by EASA, the CAA and other regulators across Europe… to take this issue seriously and ensure that the correct measures and regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of aviation is not compromised.”