EasyJet sees dip in bookings amid omicron fears

EasyJet sees dip in bookings amid omicron fears
The budget airline also announced pre-tax losses of more than £1bn

EasyJet has seen bookings weaken in the face of the omicron variant, according to its chief executive.

Johan Lundgren told the BBC that there had been a “softening” in short-term bookings amid news of the new variant, adding that some customers were rebooking for next year rather than cancelling outright.

But he said it was too early to predict how omicron might affect travel over the next year, saying, “We need to see how things settle down.”

Mr Lundgren also questioned the reinstatement of PCR testing for travellers, telling BBC Today: “There’s a question mark around the blanket PCR testing.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the reintroduction of the more expensive tests on Saturday, replacing lateral flow tests which had briefly been permitted for travellers since late October.

As of 4am on 30 November, all travellers, regardless of vaccination status, must purchase a PCR test to be taken within two days of arriving in the UK and isolate until they receive a negative result. The government has not set an end point for this change in rules.

“It’s not obvious to me that if you’re travelling in from a country… that doesn’t have any reported cases of the omicron, that you should assume that you should have to take an expensive PCR test,” said Lundgren.

EasyJet bosses today announced pre-tax losses of £1.14bn for the year to 30 September, up on the previous year’s loss of £835m.

The airline’s passenger numbers fell by 57.5 per cent to 20.4 million in the same time period.

In a statement to shareholders, the carrier predicted that it would be operating at 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by Q2, and hopes that by summer 2022 it will be operating at “near 2019 levels” of capacity.