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easyJet expects most EU countries to be on UK’s ‘green’ travel list next month

easyJet PLC’s (LON:EZJ) chief executive Johan Lundgren expects popular EU holiday destinations should be on the UK government’s ‘green’ list for international travel.

“I wouldn’t see a reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there,” he told The Independent.

READ: Jet2 cancels flights until end-June as airlines slam traffic light scheme

Westminster is implementing a ‘traffic light system’ based on the level of risk in the country where the passengers are coming from.

The ‘green’ category means that travellers are not required to quarantine although COVID-19 tests will remain mandatory.

No countries have been added to the list yet but some experts reckon they would be areas with low levels of infections such as Iceland, Malta and Israel.

In the half-year results published earlier on Wednesday, the firm said its first-half performance was “slightly better than expectations” and it is well-positioned to ramp up activities once Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on international travel are relaxed.

In a trading update for the six months to March 31, the budget airline reported it expects headline pre-tax loss to be between £690-£730mln. It added accurate capacity forecasting meant it was able to control costs while a focus on cash generative flying over the winter months resulted in second-quarter cash being “better than guidance”.

Passenger numbers in the six months fell 89% to 4.1mln, in line with a decrease in capacity to 6.4mln seat, 14% of the levels seen in the first half of 2019. Revenues fell around 90% to £235mln as pandemic travel restrictions caused a collapse in demand for air travel.

As a result of its cost savings and cash generation efforts, the company said it has access to £2.9bn of liquidity and said it is “well-positioned to capitalise on the recovery of travel once restrictions are eased across the network”. The firm added it will continue to operate a reduced schedule throughout much of its third-quarter but is ready to ramp up its operations to match demand levels, which are expected to rise from late May onwards.

However, EasyJet said given the short-term uncertainty it is not appropriate to provide further guidance for the rest of the 2021 financial year, saying customers are booking closer to departure and visibility “remains limited”.

“EasyJet has maintained a disciplined approach to flying during the first half of our financial year, resulting in a first-half loss and cash burn better than expectations.

We continue to have access to significant levels of liquidity alongside EasyJet’s major cost-out programme which continues to deliver ongoing cost and efficiency benefits.  All of this positions us well to lead the recovery”, EasyJet said in a statement.

“We welcome the confirmation by the UK Government that international travel is on track to reopen as planned in mid-May… We continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe and with vaccination programmes accelerating, most countries are planning to resume flying at scale in May.  We have the operational flexibility to rapidly increase flying and add destinations to match demand.  easyJet is ready to resume flying, prepared for the ramp up and looking forward to being able to reunite people with their families or take them on leisure and business flights once again.  As a result, we remain well-positioned for the recovery this summer and beyond”, he added.

–Adds Lundgren comment on traffic light system–

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