EasyJet to cut flights as it criticises UK Covid quarantine rules

Airline says ‘unpredictable’ government restrictions have frustrated customers

EasyJet has said it will cut flights after the UK government announced more quarantine measures, which the airline said had knocked consumer confidence and reduced demand for travel.

Johan Lundgren, the easyJet chief executive, said: “We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.”

Just over a month after expanding its flight schedule to 1,000 flights a day after better-than-expected demand, the airline said it expects to fly slightly less than the 40% of planned capacity in the fourth quarter of the year. It said it is thinning its schedule to focus on profitable flying.

EasyJet’s flight schedule is likely to be reduced by 2%. This compares with bigger flight cancellations at rival Ryanair, which cancelled almost one in five flights scheduled for September and October following a drop in bookings.

An increase in Covid-19 cases across Europe has triggered fresh quarantine restrictions on travellers. The UK government on Monday removed seven Greek islands from the list of locations that are exempt from 14-day quarantine, adding to quarantine requirements for travellers returning from countries including Spain, France, Belgium and Austria.

EasyJet said it was unable to give any financial forecasts given the many changes to government restrictions.

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We are closely monitoring customer behaviour and amending flying to ensure our schedule is aligned with demand. 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,” Lundgren said.

“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.”

He reiterated his call on the British government to provide a support package for the aviation industry, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the removal of air passenger duty for at least 12 months.


Julia Kollewe and Gwyn Topham

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