Easyjet warns travel rules may just benefit rich

beach holiday

Travel bosses have given a cautious welcome to the announcement that fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber-list countries will not have to self-isolate after 19 July.

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said he did not want to see “a return to flying being a preserve of the rich”.

“Expensive testing could sadly make travel out of reach for some,” he said.

Airlines and airports said millions of people could have a more normal summer, but there was still work to do.

The need to quarantine on return had hindered a travel industry recovery. Under previous rules, those returning to Britain from its top destinations, Spain, France, the US and Italy, all had to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons, however, that Britons returning from amber list destinations would still have take a Covid-19 test before they arrive home and then a second test on or before day two.

Children under the age of 18 will not have to self-isolate, but will need to take tests. There is no change to red-list travel restrictions.

Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “This is excellent news that will give a much needed boost to millions of people across Britain looking forward to a more normal summer and reuniting with family and friends abroad.

“But the job isn’t done,” he said, adding: “The UK should open up travel to fully vaccinated people from more countries – particularly our key partners in the US – by the end of July.”

He said Heathrow was “working closely” with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to demonstrate this could be done safely, with checks on departure, and no need for delays at immigration on arrival.

Dame Irene Hays, boss of independent travel agent Hays Travel, said she was “absolutely delighted” by the move.

“I think it’s a huge step in the right direction,” she said, adding that it came at the right time for all those whose holidays had been cancelled last year and who had been “sitting there with their fingers crossed” hoping for good news.

She acknowledged that there were still “some constraints”, especially involving testing, but advised would-be holidaymakers to have good travel insurance.

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2, said: “This is the news that UK holidaymakers have been looking forward to, as it finally signals a meaningful restart to international travel.”

He said his firm would restart flights and holidays to all amber-list destinations from 19 July onwards.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the announcement was “a positive development” that provided “assurance for consumers and businesses who can now book and travel with greater confidence”.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate described the new rules as “another small step in the right direction”.

“However, with summer holidays just around the corner, we are approaching a crucial time for our industry and we urge government to remove other barriers inhibiting international travel, including the need for costly PCR tests for those who have been double vaccinated,” he added.

British Airways chief executive and chairman Sean Doyle welcomed what he called a “common-sense approach which is already working safely for many other countries”.

“But there is more work to do,” he added.

“While the quarantine requirement for ‘amber’ countries is being lifted for fully vaccinated UK travellers, the government needs to quickly extend this to all vaccinated travellers, agree a reciprocal deal with the US, add more countries to the ‘green’ list and reduce the need for unnecessary, expensive tests.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, said it was “a positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for”.

“We now urge the government to continue this momentum by adding many more countries to the green list next week and removing onerous testing requirements at its next review on 31 July, thereby opening up more non-quarantine travel to all.”