MIAMI – Just hours after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that international travel was a feasible plan, following the UK government’s roadmap to recovery, British travelers rushed to secure a seat to their favorite summer destination.

The Prime Minister explained that foreign holidays could be permitted as early as May 17, when at the same time the government prepares a report regarding the guidelines on how British people can travel abroad.

However, the spike in bookings does not guarantee any air travel, if the COVID-19 cases surge in the arriving destination. All British regulatory bodies identify the vaccine against the virus as the most important factor to re-start international travel. 

Both airlines and travel companies embraced this announcement of the British government and promised to provide assistance towards its implementation.

Andrew Flintham, the managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, said, “The announcement from the prime minister was positive and shows that by working with the travel industry on a risk-based framework our customers will have the opportunity to travel abroad this summer. We will continue to work closely with the government so people can look forward to a well-deserved breakaway, after what has been a very difficult year for many.”       

TUI UK PH-TFL Boeing 787-8. Photo: Liam Funnell/Airways

The Rapid Surge in Holiday Bookings

For the first time in the last year, UK carriers faced an unpredictable situation. After the announcement of potential resuming of international travel from 17 May, by Boris Johnson, all major UK carriers reported a dramatic surge in their bookings.

EasyJet (U2), Ryanair (FR), TUI (BY), and Thomas Cook (MT) reported a jump in bookings to destinations like Greece and Spain, with Málaga, Alicante, and Palma in Spain, Faro in Portugal, and the Greek island of Crete among the top destinations for the UK customers. 

EasyJet revealed that flight bookings from the UK increased 337%, when at the same time package holiday bookings increased 630% as well, compared to last week. Johan Lundgren, the EasyJet chief executive, said: “We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows the signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.”

The largest travel companies operating in the UK -BY, MT, and Jet2holidays (LS) – also reported a sharp increase in the demand for summer destinations. BY, the world’s largest travel company, said that breaks in Greece, Spain, and Turkey from July onwards were the most booked overnight, with bookings up 500%. The same situation for Jet2holidays and LS, which faced a surge of 600%, compared to the bookings a week ago. 

Furthermore, the announcement of permission for international travel positively reflected on the increase of share value for airlines and travel companies. Both U2 and BY presented a rise in shares by 7% and 3%. At the same time the IAG Group’s leading carrier, British Airways (BA), presented a surge of 3.5% on its share value.   

Featured image: easyJet G-EZDX Airbus A319-111. Photo: Marco Macca/Airways