By John Flett
easyJet Increases Capacity as Spanish Islands Added to UK Travel Green List
The UK Government have added several popular holiday destinations to the ‘green list’ of countries that do not require self-isolation or quarantine upon return to the UK. Malta and the Balearic Islands which include Menorca, Majorca and Ibiza are the more high profile summer destinations that made the list in a late evening media release. In response Travel Weekly reports UK airlines have increased capacity with easyJet planning to add tens of thousands of extra seats to satisfy expected demand. Palma on the island of Mallorca will be served by the UK’s largest airline with 82 flights per week over the summer from ten UK airports.
easyJet Chief executive Johan Lundgren said, “We really want to get back to what we do best and connect people across Europe so we welcome these additions to the green list and in response we have put over 50,000 more seats on sale to new and existing routes to green destinations. This includes brand new routes from Bristol and Luton to Malta, meaning we now have around one million seats operating to current European green list destinations this summer.”
News of the revision of countries on the government’s controversial traffic light system fell far short of industry expectations. The manner in which the information was released also drew criticism from travel industry representatives. The Independent reported one senior travel industry executive as describing the government communication as “disgraceful”.
Though the addition of Malta and the Balearic Islands to the green list is seen as a positive, it by no means provides confidence to those wishing to travel to visit family and friends or holiday over the summer. In the initial release of ‘green list’ countries, Portugal saw a significant number of UK citizens book and travel only to be caught out when the country was moved down to ‘amber’ in the second revision three weeks later. In the current revision Israel has been downgraded from ‘green’ to ‘amber’ highlighting the reticence passengers may have for booking international travel.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps did provide a glimmer of hope for the industry by acknowledging plans for vaccinated travellers to travel with limited restrictions. In a BBC News report Mr Shapps said: “We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully-vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress.” No dates were given for how and when any relaxation for vaccinated travellers may be implemented nor whether other countries would reciprocate unrestricted arrivals for vaccinated UK travellers.
The next review of the UK ‘traffic light system’ is expected on 15 July a few days prior to the planned lifting of internal restrictions in the UK. It should however be noted that the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may not follow those of the Westminster government and may have different restrictions imposed.