Jet2 boss celebrates 'return to normal' as last Covid travel measures scrapped

The boss of Jet2 has welcomed foreign holiday flights "finally returning to normal" as the Government announced the final Covid international travel measures are to be scrapped from Friday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Monday that the changes, which include the end of passenger locator forms and the requirement for unvaccinated people to be tested for Covid-19 before entering the UK, will “mean greater freedom in time for Easter”.

Following the statement, Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “Two years after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s announcement marks international travel finally returning to normal. The removal of needless forms and ineffective testing regimes means that customers can at long last enjoy hassle-free travel, just like they did before the pandemic.

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"With Easter just around the corner and Summer fast approaching, this announcement comes at the perfect time. Since restrictions started to be eased at the beginning of the year, we have experienced strong, sustained demand and the complete removal of forms and requirements will boost that demand even further.”

A Jet2 sign close to Leeds Bradford Airport. Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty

The current measures will end from 4am on Friday as part of the Government's plans for 'living with Covid'.

Mr Shapps said: “These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter.”

The move comes as coronavirus infections were rising in all four UK nations for the first time since the end of January, with levels in Scotland already at a record high, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

The numbers for hospital patients with Covid were also rising, up 19 per cent week-on-week in England.

Hospital admissions with coronavirus in England remain well below the peaks reached during the Omicron and previous waves, while in Scotland the figure was close to the record peak seen in January last year.

The time-consuming passenger locator forms require people to fill in travel details, their address in the UK and vaccination status.

They have been used to track people after outbreaks of the virus.

They are currently required by all arrivals coming to the UK from outside Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK – the industry body representing UK carriers, welcomed the announcement, saying it sends the message that “the UK travel sector is back”.

“With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality throughout the travel experience,” he added.

“We’re grateful for the timing of the announcement as we prepare to welcome back passengers this Easter and Summer, for which we know there is huge pent-up demand, and for the UK’s leadership in being the first major aviation market to remove all remaining restrictions.”

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: “This welcome move by the UK Government marks a return to truly restriction-free flying to and from the UK, giving an extra boost to travel this Easter.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: “The removal of all remaining UK travel restrictions, including the passenger locator form, is the final important step towards frictionless air travel, helping to further restore consumer confidence as we welcome more customers back to the skies this spring and summer.”