EasyJet CEO does not expect Indian variant to ruin summer travel

“I don’t think that the outlook of this and the likeliness and the probability is that because of the Indian variant the summer is ruined,” easyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren told an online industry event on Wednesday.

The latest indications are that vaccines are effective against the Indian variant, Lundgren said, as he warned of the impact on airlines if Britain continues to restrict travel.

“I don’t think that UK aviation as an industry can go through another lost summer without grave consequences,” he said.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)

Italy’s Antitrust Fines Ryanair 4.2 Million Euros For Not Refunding Passengers

The regulator added that the Irish airline had a “seriously unfair conduct” in cancelling planned flights, using the pandemic as the reason, and giving passengers vouchers rather than paying them back the price of their tickets.

In past days, the authority had also fined British carrier EasyJet 2.8 million euros and Spanish airline Volotea for 1.4 million euros for the same reason, it said.

($1 = 0.8204 euros)

(Reporting by Cristina Carlevaro, editing by Giulia Segreti)

EasyJet Readies 90% of Fleet Despite Summer Doubts

By Laurence Frost and Paul Sandle

EasyJet expects to operate about 15% of pre-crisis capacity in the current April-June quarter, it said on Thursday, before returning furloughed crews for a much-anticipated summer surge.

“We have the ability to flex up quickly to operate 90% of our current fleet over the peak summer period to match demand,” Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said in the airline’s results statement.

As the peak season approaches, travel firms are pushing governments to drop quarantines and other curbs for vaccinated passengers and lower-risk destinations.

Britain’s “green list” of unrestricted countries is up for review in coming weeks, but the government has warned that the highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in India may yet slow the pace of reopening.

EasyJet’s pretax loss widened to 701 million pounds ($990 million) in the six months ending March 31, from 193 million in the year-earlier period affected only partially by the pandemic. Revenue fell 90% to 240 million pounds on a similarly sharp decline in passenger numbers to 4.1 million.

Underlining the summer doubts, the airline gave no firm capacity plan for its July-September fourth quarter.

“Given the continued level of short-term uncertainty it would not be appropriate to provide any further financial guidance,” it said. The carrier said its cost-cutting programme was on track to save 500 million pounds this year.

EasyJet’s shares, which have risen 18% since the start of 2021, were down 2.5% in early trading.

Conditions are nonetheless ripe for a strong summer rebound. EasyJet said it increased capacity by more than 105,000 seats after publication of the UK green list – which triggered a UK-Portugal bookings spike.

“We know there is pent-up demand,” CEO Lundgren said.

($1 = 0.7087 pounds)

(Reporting by Laurence Frost in Paris and Paul Sandle in London; editing by Michael Holden and Susan Fenton)

Israel Looks to Back-Up Airport as Flight Cancellations Mount

By Sarah Young and Dan Williams

Palestinian militants have repeatedly shelled the Tel Aviv area during hostilities that erupted on Monday, raising safety concerns over Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s main airport, and prompting it to reroute some flights to Ramon Airport, some 200 km (125 miles) to the south, which serves Eilat.

“The safety and security of our colleagues and customers is always our top┬ápriority, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” British Airways said after cancelling its flights to and from Ben Gurion for Thursday.

Hamas militants in Gaza said they had launched a rocket at Ramon Airport on Thursday, but the Israel Airports Authority said that no rocket had struck Ramon and that it was operating as normal. The airport, which opened in 2019, can handle about 2 million passengers a year. It is connected by bus routes to the north, although there is no train service.

Its arrivals board showed several El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. flights from abroad that had been originally scheduled to land at Ben Gurion.

An Israeli official said the two airports were operating in sync. Ben Gurion was handling cargo, private and some other flights, and Ramon is “open for landing international commercial flights” and running scheduled domestic flights, he said.

Social media carried footage, purportedly taped by a passenger on an El Al flight from Brussels that was the first plane rerouted to Ramon, showing the view through the window of rockets being fired and intercepted over Tel Aviv. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.

UK-based Virgin Atlantic cancelled its flights to Tel Aviv for Wednesday and Thursday.

Spanish airline Iberia also cancelled its flight to Tel Aviv from Madrid on Thursday and back on Friday a spokeswoman said, while Germany’s Lufthansa also cancelled its flights.

“Due to the current situation in Israel, Lufthansa is suspending its flights to Tel Aviv until Friday, May 14,” the airline said.

Wizz Air said it had delayed its Thursday flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv until Friday.

Emirati carrier Flydubai said it was continuing to operate daily flights from Dubai to Tel Aviv. The airline was scheduled to operate three flights on Thursday, its website showed, while a fourth, night-time flight was cancelled.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines on Wednesday all cancelled flights between the United States and Tel Aviv.

Virgin Atlantic had said earlier this week that bookings to Israel had soared 250% week on week after an announcement by Britain that Israel was on its “green list” for the reopening of overseas leisure travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But an explosion of violence, with fighting in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip causing mounting civilian deaths, have made international airlines wary of the region.

Israel’s national airline El Al has said it was ready to operate additional planes to make up for shortfalls in foreign carriers.

British airline easyJet said that it was not yet cancelling its flights to Tel Aviv. Its next flight there is from Berlin and not scheduled until May 16, with a service from London Luton to Tel Aviv scheduled for May 18.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Additional reporting by Inti Landauro in Madrid, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Editing by Michael Holden, Carmel Crimmins and Hugh Lawson)

EasyJet CEO Warns Britain Could be Left Behind on Travel

Britain will on Friday announce its “green list” of low risk places where people can travel without needing to quarantine on their return home, but reports suggest that just a handful of countries will make the list, with major destinations like Spain and Greece excluded.

“It’s going to you know be very odd and ironic that actually the UK, the most advanced when it comes to the roll out of the vaccination programme, is actually going to find themselves left behind,” easyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren told the FT Live online conference on Thursday.

“I think this is going to need to change, it’s going to need to change very rapidly.”

(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle)

EasyJet CEO Criticises Testing Requirements in Britain’s Travel Restart Plan

Britain’s airlines and travel industry were left disappointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s warning on Monday that it was too soon to say when international holidays could resume, meaning the re-opening could be pushed later than the current date of May 17.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said on Tuesday that there were a lot of details missing from the previous day’s announcement.

He said the government’s proposed traffic light system of ranking low risk countries as green and higher risk countries as red made sense, but travel to green countries should not require passengers to take two COVID-19 tests.

“That doesn’t make sense for me…because this could add to cost and complexities,” he told BBC Radio.

He said the cost of COVID-19 tests sometimes exceeded easyJet’s ticket prices.

“That means that you wouldn’t open up international travel for everyone, you would open up for those who could afford to pay it,” he said.

Asked if people would be able to travel to popular destinations like Spain and Greece without restrictions by July and August, Lundgren said: “Yes, I definitely think so.”

He said easyJet continued to discuss the issues around re-opening travel with the government.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by James Davey)