Citing UK Travel Uncertainty Jet2 Suspends Flights Through June

Citing uncertainty regarding the United Kingdom government’s plan to restart international travel, low-cost leisure airline Jet2 has canceled all of its flights until June 23, 2021. Blaming the government for mixed messages as to when UK citizens and residents will be able to travel abroad, Jet2 has sided with caution and canceled all flights until the third week in June.

Jet2 Boeing 737-800
Jet2 wants the government to be more clear on when people can travel abroad. Photo: Getty Images

Jet2 was not alone in its condemnation of how authorities are handling the restart of international travel, with other UK airlines also lambasting the government. Jet2 and others expected officials to announce a date for the restart and what countries UK holidaymakers can travel to without quarantine on their return home. It appears as though the government will provide details next month about a possible May 17 start date.

Jet2 is extremely disappointed

Following the government’s announcement on April 9, the Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA)-based carrier released a statement in which Jet2 chief executive Steve Heapy said:

“We have taken time to study the Global Travel Taskforce’sframework, and we are extremely disappointed at the lack of clarity and detail. After several weeks of 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”

The announcement from Jet2 comes as government ministers try to put together a three-tier traffic light system that will deem which countries people can visit without having to quarantine when they return home. Only those nations that are given the green light will be safe for UK tourists to visit. So far, Malta, Portugal, Israel, and the United States have been discussed as possible green light destinations.

PCR tests are expensive

The reaction from Jet2 is the strongest of any airline and highlights how unhappy it is with the way the government is handling the situation ahead of what was expected to be a jam-packed summer. High among the concerns is the cost of PCR tests for holidaymakers traveling to leisure destinations and whether or not the government will actually allow international travel to resume on May 17.

easyJet A319
easyJet says COVID-19 PCR tests are more expensive than tickets. Photo: Getty Images.

The United Kingdom’s largest airline, easyJet, also expressed concern about the cost of a PCR test, saying that it would be more expensive than the ticket price in many cases. Currently, a UK pre-departure PCR test costs on average £128 ($175) per person.

When speaking with business-focused newspaper City A.M., program director for connectivity at trade body, London First, Adam Tyndall said:

“The government should have unequivocally confirmed a safe and managed return to international travel from 17 May.

“The aviation industry is on its knees, and while full normality is some distance away, today’s report failed to provide some certainty for businesses and individuals to begin to make plans.”

Over the last 20 years, people in the United Kingdom have embraced low-cost international travel. Six people out of ten took a holiday abroad before the pandemic shut travel down.

Airlines need to plan months in advance to handle summer business, while destination resorts need to hire summer workers. Jet2 says it needs to hire as many as 3,500 staff for its resort hotels in Greece, Spain, and Turkey and is now planning to have them up and running by June 24.

The government is worried about variants

The British government’s problem is that it has seen a dramatic decline in the number of COVID-19 cases since it imposed a lockdown that included a ban on foreign travel. Now they are fearful that people traveling overseas could return with a vaccine-resistant variant.

Jet2 Holidays Boeing 737
The government is worried about holidaymakers bringing back variant strains. Photo: Getty Images

The UK has done an incredible job vaccinating its population, with more than 32 million people receiving their first dose. Thus, it does not want to see all the hard work undone by allowing people to travel abroad and risk a new strain coming into the country.

What do you think about the way the UK is handling the travel situation? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.