Easyjet will return to the skies on 15 June, with increased safety measures on board including mandatory wearing of face masks.
The airline initially will restart domestic routes in the UK and France where it says there is sufficient customer demand to support profitable flying. Further routes will be added in the following weeks, as and when passenger demand rises and lockdown measures ease further across Europe.
The airline will resume flights from its main airports in the UK, including London Gatwick, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Belfast International. It will also begin flying again from cities in France, including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Nice, and Lyon, as well as Geneva in Switzerland, Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain.
The company will introduce enhanced cleaning and disinfection of its aircraft, make disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser available on board, and require all passengers and cabin crew, as well as ground crew, to wear masks. There will be no food service onboard, initially.
The move was initiated as European authorities have released new guidelines to ensure the safety of passengers as regular flight schedules resume in the region after the coronavirus crisis shut down the majority of air traffic.
The measures recommended by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control include the wearing of medical face masks, washing hands and observing physical distancing where possible
The organisations say passengers do not need to worry about the air quality because “filtered air on airplanes is safer and cleaner than many of us breathe on the ground”.
EasyJet will, however, not block the middle seats in its planes despite saying last month it was considering such a move. It says the measures “have been implemented in consultation with aviation authorities” and in line with government and medical advice.
EasyJet calculated that blocking middle seats could have made flights unprofitable at a time when airlines were under financial pressure. The idea had previously been dismissed by Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of its main rival Ryanair, who said it would be a “hopelessly ineffective” way to keep passengers safe.
EasyJet’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said the airline was taking “small and carefully planned steps” to gradually resume operations.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so, when more restrictions are lifted, the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand, while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want”.