easyJet Chief Calls For Cut In PCR Test Costs To £30 To Boost European Summer Holidays.
EASYJET chief Johan Lundgren has called for the cost of PCR tests for Covid-19 to be cut to £30 – €34. After forecasting “a strong summer,” he said he expects “many countries” to be in the green category in the government’s traffic light system for restarting international travel.
This comes as the UK’s largest tour operator, TUI, has called for authorities in Cyprus to provide free or reduced-cost Covid-19 tests to encourage tourists to visit this summer.
AENA, Spain’s airport operator, is set to launch Covid testing at 15 airports that have the highest throughput of travelers. They intend to create dedicated spaces for the tests to be carried out and private companies will be able to bid to run them.
On the cost of testing, the easyJet CEO insisted: “It’s important the government makes good on its promise to drive down the cost of testing.” He argued: “We see the costs of PCR tests coming down to £60. That is still a significant cost for a family. It’s a good first step. I expect the government to continue to work to bring costs down.”
However, he said: “There is still VAT on that [price]. If that was removed you would get down to £50 – €57. If we could get the cost down to £30 – €34 there would be higher acceptance by people of these kinds of tests.”
Lundgren argued testing should be removed for arrivals from green countries or, if required, lateral flow tests should be used initially.
He said: “Why should arrivals from green countries be subject to testing? Green should mean green. By definition, these countries are low risk and that should mean unrestricted travel. When you fly between green countries you shouldn’t need to be tested. If you want a test, it should be the same test as used in opening up the UK – a lateral flow test. Then if you have Covid you take a PCR test to see if it’s a variant of concern.”
He suggested: “We’ll see a lot of receiving countries around the Mediterranean that will not require a PCR test.”
Lundgren declined to say which countries he expects to be on the government’s green list of travel, insisting: “We don’t know. That decision sits entirely with the government.”
But he argued: “I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t have most countries [in Europe] on there when we open up on May 17. By the time we get to May 17, I struggle to see how there would be many countries not in that green category unless something happens.
“This is the main question for customers right now. Is a country in the green category? It’s up to the government to decide. I would hope and expect there would be a big number of countries on the list.”
Lundgren added: “I expect the government to come out and give evidence of where countries should be [in the traffic light system]. I have no indication of when that will be, but I expect it to be quite shortly. I still believe there will be a strong summer. We need the government to come out rapidly and say what countries will be in place [on the green list].”
Published euroweekly 16 April 2021