LONDON (Reuters) -British airline easyJet said it expected to start to fly more from late May onwards and that by then most European nations must be open to British holidaymakers, painting a positive picture regarding the return of travel.
In Britain, easyJet’s biggest economy, uncertainty remains about when travel can resume and which nations will probably include on a green list of low-risk destinations.
The government has stated it will provide more details in early May and the oldest date for travel to restart will be May 17.
EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said most of Europe would be open for traveling this summer, shrugging off worries about a third wave of COVID-19 diseases on the continent.
“I would expect that almost all major European countries, that by the time it comes to travel reopening, that most countries in Europe should be in that category,” he said Britain’s green list.
Travel industry experts have been less positive, stating that green record travel could be restricted to Iceland, Malta and Israel, states that have made more progress with vaccination programmes than Europe’s large leisure destinations such as Spain, Italy and France.
EasyJet urged the government to release its own green record when possible, saying that the significant question its customers were requesting was where they could proceed.
The airline repeated criticism of the UK’s strategy to make PCR tests for COVID-19 a requirement for traveling to green list countries, saying the high cost of evaluations could dampen demand.
For the April to end-June quarter, easyJet said ability could be at 20percent of 2019 levels, but that could comprise lower levels in April and May prior to a leap in June.
Goodbody analysts said capacity could reach 35% to 40% in June.
Lundgren said it was too early to forecast July capacity, noting that client booking patterns were much later this year. But he said the airline had been willing to ramp up flying quickly and’d flexibility to modify its schedule depending on changing restrictions.
Flying was seriously curtailed because of the pandemic within the past 12 months and easyJet flew only 9% of 2019 capability in the three months ended in March, when it burnt through 470 million lbs.
But better than expected cost cutting helped the company to forecast a pretax loss in the assortment of 690 million pounds ($950. 41 million) to 730 million pounds for the six months ended March, better than a consensus forecast for a 752 million pound reduction. The company is due to report first-half results on May 20.
EasyJet said it was nicely placed financially, with liquidity of 2.9 billion pounds, with taken on new debts to assist it to endure the COVID-19 crisis.
Shares in easyJet traded up 3 percent to 949 pence early on Wednesday. The stock has surged 91% over the previous six months since vaccines introduced hope that travel could restart.
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Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton, Alistair Smout and Jane Merriman