UK Lockdown Exit Plan Leads To Surge In Bookings

Yesterday UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a road map to ease the country’s lockdown, in force since January. While no firm date has yet been set for international travel to resume, it seems that interest in travel has seen something of a surge.

UK Airlines, Booking Surge, Lockdown
UK airlines have seen a surge in flight bookings following the Prime Minister’s announcement. Photo: British Airways

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted many airlines. Travel restrictions have made flying unattractive for some and illegal for others. All the while, airlines, and airports have felt the impact of a lack of passengers. However, things may be on the up as case numbers decrease, tied with increasing vaccination rates.

A surge in airline bookings

It seems that the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday has had a positive impact on UK airlines. According to The Guardian, easyJet, TUI, and Thomas Cook have all seen an increase in bookings for the summer, including to Greece and Spain, typical holiday destinations. To put this in numbers, easyJet saw its flight booking increase by 337% compared to last week.

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Flight search tool Skyscanner told Simple Flying that visitors to its website had increased by 55% immediately following Boris Johnson’s speech. On top of this, flight bookings through the site increased by 69% from Sunday to Monday.

Gatwick, London, British Airways, Easyjet
easyJet saw flight bookings increase by 337%. Photo: Getty Images

Portugal saw the highest increase in bookings from the UK with 176% more bookings than the previous day. Spain, Italy, and Turkey also saw bookings more than double, while flight bookings to Greece increased by 96%.

Interestingly, long-haul destinations such as Pakistan, the United States, India, and Thailand also ranked in the top ten destinations booked by Brits yesterday.

Uncertainty remains

Of course, some uncertainty remains as to exactly when and where travel will be allowed. The UK revealed that international travel wouldn’t begin before May 17th, but resumption’s exact date won’t be decided until April. Until then, international travel remains illegal for many Brits.

Wizz Air, Ryanair, Easyjet
Some uncertainty remains over the timeline for international flights resuming. Photo: Getty Images

While the UK is eyeing a relaxing of its rules by the summer, this may not be the same case worldwide. There could remain a case where travel is allowed by the UK, but a destination may still ban arrivals or require travelers to quarantine. With this being said, following the pandemic’s economic impact, many holiday destinations will be keen to capitalize on the summer holiday season.

Currently, on arrival in the UK, almost every passenger must pass either quarantine at home for ten days, with two COVID-19 tests at the cost of £210, or in a hotel for £1,750 from a red-list country. The government would also need to remove the return quarantine to make travel realistic for many.

Commenting on the UK Government’s lockdown roadmap, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said,

“It is critical we start looking at a way to restart travel and we are pleased the Government has acknowledged that… UK Aviation supports 1.56 million jobs and one in ten jobs depends on travel and tourism, contributing £200 billion to the UK economy… We want to work with Government’s Taskforce on a roadmap now to ensure that aviation is in a strong position to support the UK as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Have you booked a holiday on the back of yesterday’s lockdown roadmap? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!