EasyJet is planning to fly 60% of its pre-COVID-19 pandemic capacity during the July-September period as a travel recovery takes hold in mainland Europe, and the UK is expected to catch up in the coming weeks.
The British airline said that it is confident on demand for the summer and autumn, issuing its most buoyant update since the start of the pandemic almost a year and a half ago, and allowing it to lift capacity from just 17% of 2019 levels in March-June.
The travel pick-up has to date been led by the European Union, said easyJet, leading it to shift planes from Britain to markets including Scandinavia and Holland.
Two-thirds of bookings are currently coming from the rest of Europe, while normally its business is evenly split between the UK and the continent, but easyJet expects that to change now travel rules for fully-vaccinated UK residents have been relaxed.
EasyJet Chief Executive Statements
"I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the UK demand will follow the same pattern that we're seeing outside the UK in mainland Europe," easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren told reporters.
Lundgren has been one of the most vocal critics of the UK's approach to travel over the last two months, slamming last-minute changes which have resulted in booking surges and mass cancellations.
The UK should add more countries to its "green list" of low-risk destinations, Lundgren said.
Asked about worries quarantine could be reintroduced for Britons returning from Spain, as it was for France recently, he said that easyJet is flexible.
"We set ourselves up to be able to cope with shifting demands," he said.
EasyJet stock has lost approximately 20% of its value over the last month over worries about the impact of strict UK travel rules.
EasyJet, which has shed staff, cut the size of its fleet and taken on new debt to survive, said that it is well-placed financially, with £2.9 billion of liquidity, and has cut costs to improve its cash burn rate.
But it said that limited visibility and ongoing uncertainty mean that it cannot provide guidance for the rest of the year. For the three months to June 30, easyJet recorded a pre-tax loss of £318 million.