Jet2 CEO 'simply cannot understand' Government travel update as flights from Leeds Bradford Airport cancelled
Jet2 has expressed its "concerns and frustrations" following the Government's latest travel update on the so-called green list and amber list.
It comes after the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced today that Portugal will be moved to the amber travel list.
The holiday hotspot, including the islands of Madeira and the Azores, will be removed from the green list exempting the need to quarantine on return from 4am on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka, Egypt and five other countries will also be added to the red list requiring isolation in a Government-approved hotel.
This is due to concerns of a new coronavirus mutation and rising cases, Mr Shapps said.
In an interview, Mr Shapps said: “I want to be straight with people, it’s actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end we’ve seen two things really which caused concern.
“One is the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected and we just don’t know the potential for that to be vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.”
The CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, Steve Heapy, has criticised the decision, stating that the company "simply cannot understand" why more destinations are not open to UK holidymakers.
Mr Heapy said: "We know how disappointed our customers and independent travel agency partners will be following today’s announcement, and we share their concerns and frustrations.
"The UK Government has repeatedly stated that it is making decisions based on infection and vaccination rates, yet many destinations continue to be left off the Green List despite having low infection rates and high vaccination rates.
"When you apply the Government’s own criteria for making decisions about travel, we simply cannot understand why more destinations across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are not allowed to open to UK holidaymakers."
He added: "We are now calling for complete openness and transparency when it comes to the data, so that customers and the industry can really understand what is driving these decisions.
"We agree that public health must be the number one priority.
"However, despite all the evidence and data showing that travel can restart safely and at scale, the UK continues to remain largely grounded whilst the rest of Europe opens up."
Following the update, Jet2 has decided to restart flights and holidays on July 1.
The Jersey programme will restart on June 24, as previously planned.
As Turkey is currently on the red list, Jet2 has decided to restart fights to the country on July 22.
Customers with holidays booked to amber list countries are able to amend their their booking free of charge if they are due to travel between July 1 and July 21.
The company said it will automatically cancel affected bookings and provide a full refund.
Mr Heapy said: ""We have received praise from customers, consumer organisations, media and independent travel agents for our industry-leading and prompt refunding of over £1.3bn to customers whose travel plans have been affected by programme changes during the pandemic, and we will continue this customer-first approach.
"Unlike other companies, we will refund customers if they want their money back and we will not force them to accept refund credit notes.
"The UK Government has committed to reviewing its Traffic Light status of overseas destinations every three weeks.
"We will review our programme and policies in line with that timetable and we will continue to make considered decisions in the best interests of our customers and independent travel agency partners.
"Our customers want nothing more than to get away on their much-needed holidays and our colleagues want nothing more than to give customers the holiday they deserve.
"We know international travel can restart safely, so we urge the Government to urgently reconsider its approach and work with the industry to help us achieve that.”