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'This is a fight for survival'

So what does Lundgren want to see from government? Firstly a more “targeted approach” to quarantine, rather than the “blanket fashion” which the Department for Transport is currently adopting.


He is also a passionate advocate of airport testing – “We would want them to look to introduce testing where it makes sense.”


In the longer term, Lundgren is asking government to grant “a temporary removal of APD” (one of the asks of the TTG-led #SaveTravel campaign).


“APD is one of the highest taxes in the world. To remove that on a year’s basis would give a really great incentive for people to travel, and enable the connectivity to be there when it’s so desperately needed for the country as part of the economic recovery.”


But would easyJet commit to passing any savings in APD onto the consumer? “I think definitely a majority would be passed on,” Lundgren says.

 

But he also points out: “This is a fight for survival for companies. The damage has been done. We’ve been grounded for 12 weeks and now we’ve started the slow recovery.”

'Long and difficult winter ahead'

The damage to consumer confidence cannot be underestimated either, not least because of the refunds issue, particularly with regards to airlines.

 

Lundgren is apologetic on what he notes was a failure of easyJet to “live up to its normal standards of service”.

 

However, he highlights the enormous difficulties posed by the crisis. “In our Q3 this year we had more than 250,000 cancellations. Last Q3 we had about 2,500.


“There is no organisation, no company that would be set up to deal with the requests and the demands and the pressure that comes with having to deal with that type of situation,” he insists.


Lundgren says the airline is now paying refunds within 30 days. And, he notes on the customer flying experience, easyJet’s customer satisfaction score “is almost at an all time high”.

 

 

The challenge, he acknowledges, is getting customers back on flights. “It all boils down to confidence,” he sighs, “which is a result of the public policy that comes with the quarantine system.”


There is another issue that could be deterring some customers from flying, too – the question of sustainability, with some environmental groups calling for fewer planes in the sky.


Lundgren disagrees. “When we can’t fly, you see the consequences from an economic point of view, you see the impact it has on livelihoods.”


“We’ve got to make sure that flying remains accessible for millions of people, but we need governments to provide the incentives and the funds and the resources to make sure flying has less impact on the environment.”


In the immediate term, though, Lundgren is most focused on the industry’s very survival.

 

“The recovery will be rocky. It will be uneven,” he warns. “We have a very long and difficult winter ahead.”

 

The industry best buckle up tight.

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