Jet2 restart Leeds Bradford Airport flights to Antalya and Dalaman after travel rule changes
There has been a "massive surge" in holiday bookings at Leeds-based Jet2 after the Government announced a relaxation of international travel rules.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed on Friday that the traffic light system is set to be replaced from October 4 by a single, reduced “red list” of destinations from where travellers arriving in England will have to quarantine in a Government-supervised hotel.
People who are fully vaccinated will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations, and from the end of October they will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.
In response to the news, Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, which is based at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We have seen demand step up over the last few days, and there has been an immediate and massive surge in bookings for flights and package holidays on the back of this welcome news for holidaymakers in England.
"Although it has been a long time coming, we are extremely pleased that the Government has finally committed to reopening international travel properly.
"Holidaymakers will be frustrated that these changes come too late for the peak summer holiday period, but we know how delighted they will be that their holidays are no longer subject to a set of restrictions that are completely out of step with other areas of everyday life.
"Having to take a pre-departure test in resort, along with an expensive PCR test after returning to the UK, has unfairly penalised hardworking customers and families for far too long.
"Although the removal of these burdens is welcome news and a step in the right direction, more can still be done."
Mr Heapy said the traffic light system had been "confusing and completely unfit for purpose since day one"
Jet2 will also be restarting flights and holidays to Antalya and Dalaman from Thursday, September 23 as Turkey has come off the red list.
Mr Heapy added: "The desire to get away for a well-earned holiday in the sunshine has never diminished, however harsh and unfair restrictions have remained a barrier for some.
"Now many of these restrictions have been removed, the rush in bookings for flights and package holidays to sun, ski and leisure city destinations tells us just how much holidaymakers have been longing to get away.
"Holidays mean so much to everyone, and we cannot wait to take our customers away on them.”
But Labour has raised concerns over how the monitoring for coronavirus variants will continue amid the plans to scrap PCR test requirements.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “PCR tests play a crucial role in identifying variants of concern and ministers must now set out in detail exactly how they will continue this surveillance – including whether they plan to increase sequencing of tests – to ensure we do not see a repeat of the failings that allowed the Delta variant to spread rapidly through the country.”
Under the changed travel system for England, unvaccinated passengers from non-red list countries will have to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on days two and eight after returning.
However, travellers who have a valid vaccination certificate from 17 additional countries and territories – including Japan and Singapore – will be treated as if they had been jabbed in the UK.
Meanwhile, eight countries – including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives – are being removed from the red list with effect from 4am on Wednesday.
Travellers from Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya will also no longer be required to hotel quarantine from that date.
Mr Shapps said the measures were intended to strike the “right balance“, simplifying the system while managing the public health risk “as No.1 priority”.