easyJet’s CEO has warned the UK Government that COVID-19 tests should not be a condition of travel as England hopes to reopen its borders gradually. The comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech on the country’s reopening road map.
Following the strictest border restrictions yet, most are keen to see the resumption of travel. Some of these may be tourists desperate to escape lockdown. However, the one group looking forward to the resumption of travel more than most is the airline industry. As a result of the current travel restrictions, flights to and from the UK are at historic low numbers.
Against testing for all
Today, easyJet’s CEO, Johan Lundgren, came out against compulsory testing for all passengers heading to the United Kingdom. According to Reuters, he told the BBC that requiring these tests would add costs and complexity to travel. He said that quite often, COVID-19 tests can cost more than flights.
There is a risk that such a requirement could create an additional barrier to travel, given the work that low-cost carriers have undertaken to make travel more accessible. While the costs associated may be manageable for some individuals, they will quickly rack up for families.
Entering England from a non-red-list country currently entails test costs of £210 per person. Now, for a family of four where all are required to be tested, this instantly puts the price of a trip up by £840, assuming this price would stick. Even if it drops to perhaps £50, this still sets a family back £200.
Commenting on this, Lundgren said,
“[Requiring tests] means that you wouldn’t open up international travel for everyone, you would open up for those who could afford to pay it.”
What’s the latest regarding international travel?
For the time being, all non-essential travel from the UK remains illegal, with fines of up to £5,000 possible. However, the United Kingdom is taking steps to reopen domestically. On Monday, things such as beer gardens and zoos are set to reopen.
During his speech yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to outline how the government would handle a return to international travel. However, this was noticeably absent from his sort speech.
A roadmap update shared by the government yesterday mentioned that the government is keen to see a return to non-essential travel as soon as possible, adding that they hope to enable people to take summer holidays this year. However, it added,
“Given the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries, we are not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from [May 17th].”