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Easyjet ready to ‘ramp up’ for summer holidays

Easyjet has announced steep losses due to the pandemic but says it is ready to “ramp up” for summer holidays demand.

The airline said it expects to make a pre-tax loss of £690-730m in the six months to 31 March, which is slightly better than expected.

Its boss said it is “ready to resume flying, prepared for the ramp up and looking forward” to people travelling as lockdown restrictions ease.

But he also warned that tests required for passengers may be too costly.

Johan Lundgren, the chief executive of Easyjet, said that it “welcomed” the news that international travel was on track to reopen.

Foreign holidays are currently banned, and returning travellers have to quarantine on arrival. The earliest possible date for foreign travel from England has previously been given as 17 May, but it has not been confirmed.

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales have argued that it is too early for foreign holidays.

For England, destination countries will be in one of three categories (green, amber or red) and each one will require passengers to take a pre-departure Covid test as well as a PCR test on return to the UK.

Mr Lundgren said: “Easyjet was founded to make travel accessible for all and so we continue to engage with government to ensure that the cost of the required testing is driven down”.

Consumer group Which? has estimated that each PCR test – which is just one of the tests needed – could cost about £120 per person.

Mr Lundgren added that may “risk turning back the clock and make travel too costly for some”.

Flying ‘at scale’

The airline also said on Wednesday that many European countries were planning to resume flying “at scale” in May.

Bookings for summer travel, dependent on restrictions easing, will help boost the airline’s finances which have been squeezed during the pandemic.

Passenger numbers for the six months to 31 March fell by 89% to 4.1 million. This led to total group revenue for the same period dropping by 90% to £235m.

Easyjet said that has enough flexibility to “significantly ramp capacity up or down quickly”, according to demand for flights.

“Customers are booking closer to departure and visibility remains limited”, it said. But overall between April and the end of June, it expects to fly up to 20% of 2019 capacity levels. –