LONDON – easyJet (U2) has announced plans to cut flights following the UK government announcing more quarantine measures. The airline claims that these have knocked consumer confidence and reduced the demand for travel.

easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said, “We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.”

Photo: easyJet

Flying at Lower Capacity

Just over a month ago, U2 expanded its flight schedule to 1,000 flights a day following a larger than expected increase in demand for air travel. Now, the airline says it expects to fly slightly less than the planned 40% capacity in Q4 of this year. The airline added that it is thinning its schedule to focus on more profitable flying.

The airline’s flight schedule is likely to be reduced by 2%. This compares with bigger flight cancellations at rival carrier, Ryanair (FR), which have cancelled almost 20% of flights scheduled for September and October following a drop in bookings.

easyJet’s first flight from Berlin-Tegel to Munich on 5.1.2017. Photo: easyJet

An increase in COVID-19 Cases

An increase in Coronavirus cases across Europe has led to the UK Government to implement harsher quarantine restrictions on travelers. Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps MP, announced that arrivals from seven Greek islands would have to isolate for two weeks.

The measure is effective upon their return to England from Wednesday at 4 AM BST. These new restrictions, however, do not apply from passengers arriving from elsewhere in Greece.

Thus, the islands of Lebos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini, and Zakynthos will be added to England’s quarantine list. Popular holiday destinations are already on the list, such as Spain, France, Belgium, and Austria.

easyJet procession. Photo: easyJet.

Monitoring Behavior

The airline said it was unable to provide any financial forecasts as a result of the wide changes to the government’s restrictions. However, Mr. Lundgren said the airline was closely monitoring customer behavior and amending flying to ensure its schedule was aligned with demand.

As a result of the measure on the seven Greek islands and the continued uncertainty for passengers, Lundgren said, “demand is now likely to be further impacted and therefore lower than previously anticipated.”

The CEO added that the airline “called on the government to opt for a targeted, regionalized and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.”

He reiterated his call on the British government to provide a support package for the aviation industry, following the devastating impact on the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the removal of air passenger duty for at least 12 months.

Featured photo: easyJet.