Jet2 cancels trips until 24 June and rails against traffic light system

by Deborah Cater
Jet2 CEO unhappy with traffic light system
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LONDON – On Friday, Jet2 postponed sales of package holidays and flights until June 24th. CEO Steve Heapy railed against British government saying traffic light proposals not changed in six months.

The Jet2 group postpones sale of packages holidays and flights from the United Kingdom until at least June 24, 2021. The British government’s travel requirements – the traffic light system – was made public on Friday 9th April.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2 was far from happy, saying “The proposals are practically the same as six months ago.” This comes less than a week after Jet2 spoke of traveller confidence being “through the roof” and increasing the number of flight seats for the summer.

The British traffic light system for international travel

On Friday 9th April, the British Global Travel Taskforce made public the traffic light system which will regulate international travel from the UK when it resumes. The earliest date for this is May 17th.

The level of alert – green, yellow or red – has various determinants. They are: the percentage of the vaccinated population, the infection rate, the prevalence of worrisome variants and access from the country to scientific data and reliable genomic sequencing.

When returning from abroad, travellers will need to follow a different procedure depending on the alert level of the country.

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  • Green: travellers will have to take a test before returning.  Also, they need a PCR two days after entering the UK. They do not have to quarantine unless they test positive.
  • Yellow: Travellers will need to undergo a test before returning and, once, within the UK, they will have to undergo PCR on days 2 and 8. Also, they must quarantine for 10 days, reduced to 5 days if they return a negative test.
  • Red : Travellers will have to undergo a test before returning and, once, within the UK, they will have to undergo PCR on days 2 and 8. In addition, they will have to remain isolated for 10 days in quarantined hotels designated by the Government. Those costs are borne by the traveller.

All travellers must reserve their test package before travelling. Those from red countries will also have to reserve their stay for quarantine.

Heapy “disappointed” with system

Heapy, in an interview with Travelweekly, viewed the requirements with “disappointment.” He said, “After five weeks in which the GTT has been preparing the report, they came up with something that is not very different in structure from what we had last summer.”

He also said the framework does not provide tour operators with sufficient details.  Nor do they have a current alert level for countries. That information will be provided in early May, which does not leave operators enough time to schedule flights for May 17th.  

“PCRs in the UK are prohibitive”

The number of tests required by returning Britons is a huge and expensive obstacle in reactivating travel. TUI sources revealed that the British Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents (ABTA) and the tour operators themselves “are pushing for a more economical viable way to perform the tests, because PCRs in the United Kingdom are prohibitive, reaching €200 per person.” This was reported in industry news site tourinews.

Fortunately for Spain, the rollout of the quick test centres at its airports is well under way. The test centre at Málaga airport, which in 2019 saw 18million UK visitors, is already up and running. A PCR test costs just under €60 with results within 12 hours.

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