In a final attempt to keep crews and planes aloft, easyJet has responded to the latest government crackdown on international travel by introducing very short domestic flights.
With no indication of when a large-scale overseas vacation might be possible, Britain’s largest low-cost airline has shifted capacity from the UK to Germany.
But easyJet still has far more resources than it needs to run its current UK backbone service under government restrictions.
Thus, the airline will operate Airbus A320s, with a range of more than 2,500 miles, on a pair of English domestic routes less than 200 miles: Liverpool to Bournemouth (182 miles) and Birmingham to Newquay (198 miles). Links begin July 10. One-way fares on both start at £ 23.
The connection between Merseyside and Dorset is reminiscent of the air links of the 1960s, when road and rail links were much worse.
AA Route Planner gives a driving time between Liverpool and Bournemouth centers of four and a half hours via Birmingham, Oxford and Southampton.
Previously, the shortest easyJet flight did not include a 145 mile water crossing from Luton to Liverpool in 2000-01. At the time, the west coast main line was in very poor condition, making the three daily flights attractive to travelers.
Johan Lundgren, managing director of easyJet, spoke in favor of reducing travel restrictions for people traveling to the UK.
A certain relaxation was expected during the first revision of the “green list” on 3 June. But instead, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps moved Portugal – the only mainstream holiday destination on the Green List without a quarantine – to the Orange List, triggering a hasty return to avoid self-isolation.
Mr Lundgren said at the time: ‘The government has torn up its own rulebook and ignored science, throwing people’s plans into chaos, with virtually no notice or alternate options for traveling from the UK. This decision essentially cuts the UK off from the rest of the world. “
With no indication that ministers were listening, the easyJet CEO approved a program to keep planes and personnel in the air.
EasyJet’s Anglo-Scottish routes are extensive, with a Manchester-Edinburgh flight (185 miles) replacing a service lost when Flybe went bankrupt in March 2020.
Unlike Flybe, however, easyJet will not have transfer arrangements with overseas flights to Manchester Airport.
TransPennine Express trains run from central Manchester to Edinburgh in under three hours, with services starting at Manchester Airport.
Manchester will also benefit from an easyJet connection with Aberdeen (266 miles).
By far the most extreme domestic easyJet route will connect Inverness to Newquay in Cornwall – an air distance of 493 miles.
The 110-minute flight offers an alternative to a 14-hour train journey with five changes required, and the first flight north sells for just £ 33.
However, it is unclear how high the demand will be for a connection between two relatively sparsely populated parts of the UK.
Another Anglo-Scottish link will link Aberdeen to Bristol.
Jersey will be more accessible with easyJet flights from Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle.
Northern Ireland was hit hard by the collapse of Stobart Air, which provided services to and from Belfast City. A new easyJet route will link Belfast International to Leeds Bradford.
Airline timetable analyst Sean Moulton said: “The addition of new domestic routes by easyJet will attract customers wishing to vacation this year.
“However, this expansion could lead other airlines to pull back from the routes they have served throughout the pandemic – which could mean loss of connectivity beyond the peak of summer.”
British Airways’ CityFlyer branch on Wednesday announced routes between Belfast City and Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford and Newquay.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-17 06:32:22