EasyJet CEO Chides EU States Over Fragmented Travel Policies

EasyJet CEO Chides EU States Over Fragmented Travel Policies
EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren gestures as he talks to media at Gatwick Airport, UK, on June 15, 2020. (Peter Cziborra/Reuters)

PARIS/LONDON—European governments should focus on developing coherent air travel policies as airlines struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than shielding national carriers, easyJet  Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said on Tuesday.

Speaking at an online event with industry CEOs and EU policymakers, Lundgren blamed some of the slump in traffic on "tremendous confusion" over differing restrictions and quarantine measures.

"There needs to be a common approach when it comes to the things that have to do with testing (and) quarantine," Lundgren said during the event hosted by Brussels-based industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E).

Pressure on the sector is intensifying as the travel slump drags on longer and deeper than many had expected, increasing the threat to weaker players as well as the prospect of a new round of government bailouts.

With 4.2 million European flights and 140 billion euros ($166 billion) in revenue already lost to the crisis, according to Eurocontrol data, airlines have condemned quarantines as a disproportionate response and a major travel deterrent.

Seeking to restore order amid policy chaos, the European Union is struggling to persuade governments to embrace common risk assessments and principles governing travel rules.

Beyond that, a coordinated global approach is key to restoring long-haul travel, said Sebastian Mikosz of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"We are not at the stage of the recovery, we are still at the stage of the survival," he said. "If you have any form of quarantine (it's) absolutely equivalent to closing the market."

By Laurence Frost and Sarah Young