Jet2 cancels all flights and holidays until late June

Airline criticises lack of detail after UK Government opens door to foreign travel.

Jet2 cancels all flights and holidays until late June Getty Images

Airline Jet2.com has extended the suspension of its flights and package holidays until June 23.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has said people can start thinking about overseas holidays this summer, but the airline criticised a lack of clarity from the UK Government on how foreign travel will resume.

Edinburgh Airport also said there was “no clear plan” for the travel industry’s recovery.

Jet 2 CEO Steve Heapy said the airline had been left “extremely disappointed at the lack of clarity and detail”.

He said: “After several weeks exploring how to restart international travel, with substantial assistance and input from the industry, the framework lacks any rigorous detail about how to get international travel going again.

“In fact, the framework is virtually the same as six months ago.

“Following the publication of the framework today, we still do not know when we can start to fly, where we can fly to and the availability and cost of testing. Rather than answering questions, the framework leaves everyone asking more.”

He added: “Because of the continued uncertainty that the framework provides, it is with a heavy heart that we have taken the decision to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including June 23.”

Shapps announced a “framework” for the resumption of overseas leisure travel in England, which included requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.

Post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120, he said.

This led to a furious backlash from the travel industry, which wants travellers returning from low-risk countries to be allowed to take lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and quicker.

Asked if people could start to book foreign holidays now, Shapps told Sky News: “I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t book summer holidays now, it’s the first time that I’ve been able to say that for many months.”

He said he was looking to “drive down the costs” of tests required for international travel to resume.

“Costs are definitely a concern, it’s one of the factors this year, and we have to accept we’re still going through a global pandemic,” he said.

“And so we do have to be cautious and I’m afraid that does involve having to have some tests and the like.

“But, I am undertaking today to drive down the costs of those tests and looking at some innovative things we could do.”

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the requirement for PCR tests was “a blow to all travellers” and risked “making flying only for the wealthy”.

He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”

Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation Abta, said permitting the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus”.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said the announcement “does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by ministers”.