Easyjet 'optimistic summer flying possible' as it challenges Loganair with new Scottish routes

Scotland’s largest airline today announced new summer Inverness-Belfast and Glasgow-Newquay routes on the expectation of a “pent up demand” for travel when Covid restrictions are eased.

The new routes are scheduled to operate twice weekly from June. Picture: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The peak-season move by Easyjet will see it compete against Loganair’s year-round Inverness-Belfast service, which is due to resume in April after the Covid lockdowns.

But The Scotsman has learned that Easyjet’s new Newquay route has prompted the Glasgow-based airline to ditch its plans to operate the route this summer, which was served by Flybe before its collapse last March.

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Easyjet said it planned to launch both services twice weekly from late June.

Easyjet has introduced daily enhanced cabin disinfection to protect against coronavirus. Picture: Ben Queenborough

It also announced its new Edinburgh-Gibraltar route, whose launched was postponed from last March by the pandemic, will start on May 4.

The airline said: “While people may not be able to travel right now, we know there is pent up demand which we see every time restrictions are eased.

"We remain optimistic that summer flying this year will be possible as the vaccination continues to progress well, and hope to see there will be a road map from the Scottish and UK governments for travel restrictions to be safely and progressively rolled back, which enables people to plan for the future.”

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today: “Be cautious about booking holidays, even domestically [within the UK].”

She said she could not guarantee “everything will be ok” by the time people were due to travel.

Easyjet UK country manager Ali Gayward said: “We know that people want to travel as soon as they can and as soon as it is safe to do so and so we want to ensure they have even more destinations to choose from when making a booking for this summer.

“While we remain optimistic for summer travel, given the successful roll out of the vaccination programme which will be an important trigger for the Scottish and UK governments to begin to unwind some restrictions, our protection promise means that customers can book with confidence knowing that if they are unable to travel or their plans change, so can their flights or holiday.

"Unlike other airlines, we will offer customers refunds if they are impacted by a travel ban, even if their flight is not cancelled.

"We will be ready to ramp up our flights so we can take our customers away to see friends and family or on long-awaited holiday breaks when they can safely take to the skies again.”

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The Belfast flights are scheduled for Mondays and Fridays from June 28 and those to Newquay on Tuesdays and Saturdays from the following day, over the “peak summer season”.

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “We will be maintaining our year-round services between Inverness and Belfast City, resuming services in April which are temporarily suspended due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

"Our flights on the route are year-round and offer up to daily frequency, and all Loganair fares include a checked baggage allowance” – unlike Easyjet.

“In light of easyJet’s decision, we will not now fly between Glasgow and Cornwall Airport Newquay this summer.”

Passengers will be offered to switch to its Edinburgh-Newquay or Glasgow-Exeter routes.

A survey of passenger satisfaction by consumer group Which? last month gave Easyjet a 45 per cent rating, as it said customers faced lengthy phone waiting times while seeking refunds.

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