easyJet CEO: Zero COVID Won’t Happen

In a late-July interview with Simple Flying, easyJet airline chief Johan Lundgren discussed dealing with the global health crises in the context of managing an airline. The CEO believes that COVID will be something that needs to be managed and something the public will need to learn how to live with- stating that “Zero COVID” won’t happen. Let’s take a closer look at what he has to say on the matter.

easyjet A320
Like all other airlines in the world, easyJet has had to deal with constant shifts in travel restrictions. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

“You have to live with the virus”

When discussing the global health crisis and having to make last-minute operational adjustments due to new travel restrictions, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren is adamant that we will all need to learn how to live with the virus, saying:

“There’s nobody who can open up [domestic economies] if you’re assuming a Zero COVID risk policy, but there’s nobody who has that policy, because you can’t do that- you have to live with a virus, you have to do is going to manage the way.”

The airline chief admits that this will involve risk-taking, which of course, is somewhat mitigated by testing and vaccination policies.

But is the CEO correct in stating that nobody has a zero COVID policy?

easyjet, UK green list, Future Flying
Lundgren has called PCR testing expensive and unnecessary. Photo: Getty Images

The countries taking a Zero COVID approach

Countries have all had to set their own tolerance levels for COVID cases. The UK and parts of the US have been quicker to open up than other regions of the world. However, one corner of the planet is indeed aiming for Zero COVID- an approach that has drawn both praise and criticism, depending on who you ask.

Zero COVID is a term that residents of Australia and New Zealand might be all too familiar with by now. The two countries have taken an extremely strict approach to the virus, aiming for zero cases of domestic transmission through quick lockdowns and regional travel restrictions.

This policy has indeed kept cases and subsequent hospitalizations down to impressively low levels. At the same time, while strict arrivals limits, hotel quarantines, and interstate travel restrictions were all tolerated at the start, they have all taken their toll on airlines and the public, with restriction-fatigue on the rise.

easyjet A320
Lundgren said that grounding the entire easyJet fleet was the hardest decision for him to make, but believes the airline is recovering faster as a result. Photo: Joanna Bailey | Simple Flying

Zero COVID is unlikely

While optimism is a great sentiment to have, Lundgren is most likely correct in saying that Zero COVID won’t happen. Indeed, there are just too many anti-vaccine/vaccine-hesitant members of the public resisting the one surefire way out of this crisis.

Thus, Lundgren makes a good point in saying that governments need to manage risk and set realistic policies that allow for safe and responsible travel. This, in turn, will give the traveling public a greater sense of confidence when booking with airlines such as easyJet.