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TUI and Ryanair to Operate Over 75% of Pre-Pandemic Flights in Summer
The U.K. government’s roadmap out of the CoVid-19 pandemic has made international travel for leisure purposes illegal until at least May 17 but there is growing concerned this could be extended further. An aviation task force comprising several government departments, industry bodies, transport operators and travel agencies will be reporting back to the Prime Minister on April 12. The taskforce will put forward a series of recommendations on how the industry can reopen safely.
The framework is expected to involve existing measures such as testing and isolation in addition to how to incorporate health certificates that recognize the vaccination status of travelers. To date over 29 million U.K. adults have received the first of two vaccination doses with the remaining 21 million being offered the first dose by July.
The government has previously advised that the decision on when international travel can resume will be dependent on: the global and domestic epidemiological picture; the prevalence and location of any ‘variants of concern’; the progress of vaccine rollouts in the U.K. and abroad; and what more the government has learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and the impact on transmission, hospitalization and deaths.
Airlines are anticipating the possibility of a delayed start to the all-important summer holiday season with leisure travel company TUI reducing capacity from its initial forecast. The Guardian has reported that TUI Airlines will be operating 75 percent of pre-pandemic flights, down from a forecast 80 percent. TUI operates travel agencies, hotels, cruise ships and retail shops in addition to the airline and announced that summer bookings are down 60% for this summer with only 2.8 million bookings.
The chief executive of TUI, Friedrich Joussen told the company’s annual meeting on Thursday that there were positive signs for the summer but it would require government co-operation. “We know there is pent-up demand for travel … Policymakers have to create the conditions for tourism,” he said.
Ryanair is also striking an optimistic note with the Irish carrier advising this week that they will operate at 80% of pre-pandemic levels. The airline announced this week that its U.K. summer schedule would include ‘over 2,300 weekly flights across 480 routes, including 26 new routes to popular holiday destinations in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.’
Ryanair’s Group chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, said: “The UK Government has implemented a very successful vaccine rollout program, and is on track for a re-opening of E.U. short-haul travel this summer. Ryanair is pleased to offer even more choice and lower fares to our U.K. customers and their families.”
To provide further passenger confidence Ryanair has dropped flight change fees for all new bookings made before June 30 for travel before Oct. 31.
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