Holidaymakers are leaving it until the last minute to book their summer breaks given the uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions, travel group Jet2 has said.
The company expressed its disappointment at the lack of clarity in the “traffic light” plan to allow the return of overseas travel next month, including which countries will be on the “green” list.
In a trading update, it said: “Unsurprisingly given the short-term uncertainty, customers are booking significantly closer to departure for summer 21.
“However, we continue to be encouraged by the volume of customer bookings for both winter 21/22 and for summer 22, for which package holiday bookings are displaying a materially higher mix of the total.”
Jet2 said the impact and duration of the planned pandemic restrictions for this summer remained “difficult to determine” – which was why it has decided to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including 23 June.
It said it was confident that “once normality returns” customers would be determined to enjoy a holiday at its destinations in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and in European cities.
The update came as the group pencilled in an underlying loss of up to £385m for the year to the end of March but said its financial position was strong after raising an extra £1bn and taking measures to preserve cash during the pandemic.
Jet2 is one of a number of travel operators calling for more clarity about plans to restart leisure travel on 17 May.
The government has been urged to make clear as soon as possible which countries will be on a green list that will allow holidaymakers to travel without quarantining on their return.
Concerns have also been expressed about the costly tests that passengers will have to pay to take even when coming back from the low-risk group of countries.
Dame Irene Hays, boss of the Hays Travel chain, told Sky’s Ian King Live that her business had seen “an awful lot of pent-up demand” but added: “We are hoping that it will be a little earlier than 17 May for the announcement.
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“Everybody is ready to go.”
The boss of travel agent Thomas Cook told Sky News over the weekend that he was confident that by the time schools break up for the summer, most popular Mediterranean destinations would be open.
Easyjet chief executive Johan Lundgren has said he expects Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal when foreign leisure travel resumes.
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