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LONDON, April 6 — The boss of British no-frills airline Easyjet today criticised the UK government’s draft plan to make travellers returning from countries deemed at low-risk of coronavirus pay for two tests.
Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said the requirement would not be fair and would result in international travel only reopening “for people who can afford it”.
He estimated that the tests needed, which cost more than £100 (RM574) each, would be “way over and above what the cost is of an average easyJet fare”.
“I don’t think that is fair, I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t think it is necessarily established from a medical and scientific point of view that is the right thing to do,” Lundgren told the BBC.
“You wouldn’t open up international travel for everyone, you would open up international travel for people who can afford it.”
It is currently illegal to travel internationally from Britain except for a number of limited reasons, with the government conducting a review on how to reopen the sector in the coming months.
It has said the earliest travel could restart is from May 17.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed tentative details for a traffic light system to enable overseas leisure travel to resume as Covid-19 restrictions are gradually eased nationwide.
Green destinations will see travellers exempt from quarantine on return, but still require tests before and after journeys.
People returning from places designated orange must self-isolate once back, while those who have been in red countries will need to quarantine in hotels.
Countries will be categorised based on a range of factors, including the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.
Pitch for cheaper antigen tests -The list of countries is still being finalised, with full details expected later this week when the government’s global travel taskforce publishes its report.
Lundgren said if ministers did opt for the traffic light system, they should use rapid lateral flow antigen tests, which are cheaper and more readily available.
His remarks echoed the views of Virgin Atlantic’s general manager Shai Weiss, who has argued that green-listed destinations should include the United States, Israel and the Caribbean.
In Britain, which has the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe, nearly 31.6 million people have already received a first vaccine dose, while 5.4 million have had two shots.
Responding to Lundgren’s comments, Johnson said Tuesday that he wanted to make travel “as flexible and as affordable as possible”.
“I do want to see international travel start up again,” he added.
But, Johnson said: “We have to be realistic. A lot of the destinations that we want to go to at the moment are suffering a new wave of the illness, of Covid.” — AFP