One of the biggest tour operators in the UK has postponed all holidays until 23 June, blaming ongoing lack of clarity from the government.
Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays is the first tour operator to react to the Global Travel Taskforce’s framework by further suspending its flights and holidays.
On Friday the government confirmed that foreign holidays to some destinations will be possible from 17 May. Countries will be ranked green, amber or red based on a number of criteria such as vaccinations, infection rates and the prevalence of “variants of concern”, but the government said it was too early to reveal which countries will be on the list.
Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy said he was “extremely disappointed at the lack of clarity and detail” in the proposals outlined by the taskforce. “In fact, the framework is virtually the same as six months ago,” he said, adding, “Following the publication of the framework today, we still do not know when we can start to fly, where we can fly to and the availability and cost of testing. Rather than answering questions, the framework leaves everyone asking more.”
Data firm Globaldata warned that Jet2’s decision could further dent already fragile consumer confidence in overseas travel. “The industry could see a similar move from Jet2.com’s competitors, as confidence in booking for this period could decline if one operator has already suspended operations.”
According to a consumer survey carried out by Globaldata on Friday, 30% of respondents are not willing to travel.
The travel and aviation sectors have also warned that the cost of PCR tests will be a major disincentive for consumers considering a holiday abroad. New research from the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) shows that the cost of PCR testing for international travel in the UK is double that of testing in some other European countries. It found that individuals travelling from the UK to a green country in Europe under the new traffic light system announced today would have to pay an average of £306 for testing, as they will need a UK pre-departure test, a pre-departure test in their destination country at the end of their holiday and a post-arrival test once back in the UK..
Abta and AOA are urging the government to reconsider testing requirements. “Small changes, like requiring a PCR test only if the individual gets a positive result from a lateral flow test, would make international travel more accessible and affordable while still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus,” said Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer. “The government should also consider whether those who have been vaccinated can be exempted from testing requirements, should scientific evidence suggest reduced transmissibility.”