EasyJet: Omicron variant already affects flight bookings

LONDON (AP) – British airline easyJet said on Tuesday it was already seeing some impact on demand for the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in the days following its first identification.

The airline, which also revealed another annual loss of more than one billion pounds ($ 1.34 billion), said it saw signs of slowing demand, but that it is “too much. early to say “what impact the new variant will have on the industry.

He said there were signs that winter bookings have started to weaken and some travelers are delaying trips until early next year, with urban destinations particularly hard hit.

Managing Director Johan Lundgren said the impact so far was not at the level seen previously when restrictions were imposed, although he stressed it was “too early to tell” what the blow will be. final.

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Due to the uncertainty surrounding the new variant, countries are tightening travel restrictions.

Already in Britain, the government has said newcomers will have to take a high-level PCR test by the end of their second day in the country and self-isolate until they test negative. .

Lundgren questioned the government’s approach.

“There is always a big question mark as to why we have introduced general PCR testing when we bring in people from countries where they have no recorded cases,” he said.

His comments came as the company posted a loss of 1.04 billion pounds ($ 1.39 billion) for the year ending September, an 18.6% improvement from the loss of 1, 27 billion pounds ($ 1.70 billion) from last year, which was easyJet’s first full-year loss in its 25-year history.

The latest annual loss came amid a 52% reduction in revenue to 1.5 billion pounds ($ 2 billion), which was partially offset by a 33% drop in overall costs to 2.6 billion. pounds ($ 3.47 billion).

The company has refrained from providing full financial guidance for the year, given the uncertainty.

“The airlines don’t seem to be able to take a break,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “News of new COVID variants and the potential for new travel restrictions make it incredibly difficult to predict exchange patterns from here. “

Despite the uncertainty, easyJet said it still hopes for a return to pre-pandemic negotiating levels.

The group said it plans to increase its flights to around 65% of pre-pandemic levels in the current quarter through December, rising to 70% in the three months leading up to March and a return to the levels of around 2019 during the summer term.

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