easyJet CEO: UK Needs To Remove Expensive And Unneccessary PCR Testing

During a recent Simple Flying webinar featuring easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, the airline chief called for the removal…

easyJet CEO: UK Needs To Remove Expensive And Unneccessary PCR Testing

During a recent Simple Flying webinar featuring easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, the airline chief called for the removal of preflight PCR test requirements, which he summed up as expensive and unnecessary. Considering the fact that the cost of two PCR tests costs more than most roundtrip airfares with the airline, Lundgren sees this as a huge factor in suppressing travel- particularly for his airline and its low fares.

Lundgren is vocal about the need to remove PCR testing in favor of cheaper forms of testing when necessary. Photo: Getty Images

During the July 29th conversation between Simple Flying’s Joanna Bailey and easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, the airline chief repeatedly criticized the requirement for PCR testing. On the topic of customer confidence to make reservations, Lundgren noted that “expensive and unnecessary PCR testing” was one factor present in suppressing demand.

An expensive test

Criticizing the requirement for PCR testing, Lundgren said, “decision-makers don’t understand that [PCR testing] adds on a very, very expensive cost to the journey to which a lot of people say, ‘look, it’s out of reach for me, I can’t do that.'”

The airline CEO notes that the average fare of an easyJet return ticket from UK to an international destination is, on average, £130 (equivalent to $180). PCR tests, on average, he says, cost £100.

“You don’t need to have a PhD in price elasticity to recognize that this is going to have a big impact. So, key thing now is that they remove PCR testing…They should do like everyone else is doing, have the lateral flow test”

It should be noted that lateral flow tests cost significantly less than PCR testing- about 1/2 or 1/3 of the price.

Lateral flow tests can be about 30% of the cost of a PCR test. Photo: Getty Images

An unnecessary test?

On the topic of these types of tests being unnecessary, Lundgren said that PCR tests being used for green and amber list travelers were only being subjected to genomic sequencing 2% of the time. More simply put, Lundgren asserts that one of the main purposes of conducting the more accurate (and more time-consuming) test- ‘genomic sequencing’ – is only taking place a fraction of time time.

This is how the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes genomic sequencing:

“Genomic sequencing allows scientists to identify SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes over time into new variants, understand how these changes affect the characteristics of the virus, and use this information to better understand how it might impact health.”

As a satisfactory stand-in to PCR testing, Mr Lundgren advocates for the use of “Lateral Flow Testing” instead, saying that this form of screening is much more available and much more affordable, “which evidently is just as effective.” But is this really the case?

PCR tests are more expensive than most airfares with easyJet. Photo: easyJet

Lateral flow testing appears to be far less accurate

The UK’s NHS points out that rapid lateral flow tests are for people “who do not have symptoms of COVID-19” and “give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test.”

Of course, this quick result has its drawbacks. According to Gavi, a recent study concluded that the average sensitivity of lateral flow tests (LFT) was 72% among people with COVID-19 symptoms and 58% for people without symptoms. “This would mean that for every 100 people infected with COVID-19 who had symptoms, only 72 of them would test positive on an LFT.” The website adds that because of this relatively low sensitivity, “a negative test result cannot guarantee that you aren’t infected – false negatives are reasonably common.”

Therefore, if this is truly the case, then Mr Lundgren’s assertions that LFTs are “just as effective” would be false. While we can agree that PCR testing is onerous, expensive, and a massive barrier to travel, the alternative rapid test appears to be too unreliable as a stand-in. If countries want to maintain some control over arrivals, PCR testing, sadly, might be the most reliable method in addition to vaccination requirements. Ultimately, however, as we’ve seen with the Tokyo Olympics, vaccinations and testing can only do so much, and, even with the tightest controls, COVID-19 still manages to sneak past borders.

What are your thoughts on PCR testing as a travel requirement for certain countries?  Do you agree that it’s expensive and unnecessary? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Amid Recovery, Spirit Airlines Posts $288M 2nd Quarter Loss

Florida-based Spirit Airlines says its recovery continued throughout the second quarter of 2021, posting some of the best…

Amid Recovery, Spirit Airlines Posts $288M 2nd Quarter Loss

Florida-based Spirit Airlines says its recovery continued throughout the second quarter of 2021, posting some of the best financial results across the United States airline industry. Against revenues of US$859.3 million, Spirit Airlines has posted a $287.9 million net loss for the April-June period.

Spirit Airlines posted a US$288 million 2nd quarter loss. Photo: Spirit Airlines

‘Due to our strategic execution and improving demand backdrop, our second quarter 2021 financial results were among the best in the industry,” said Ted Christie, Spirit’s President and CEO, on Wednesday. “We remain very well-positioned to stimulate markets and capture the significant market opportunities in the domestic U.S. and near-field international marketplace.”

Despite the quarterly loss, the metric are improving at Spirit Airlines

In the same quarter last year, Spirit Airlines recorded a net loss of $144.4 million. In 2019, the airlines posted a $114.5 million net profit across the April-June quarter. Spirit Airlines recorded its first month with adjusted net earnings in June since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Factoring in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, short-term investment securities, and a revolving credit facility, Spirit Airlines had $2.2 billion on hand on June 30.

Spirit’s load factor for the second quarter of 2021 was 84.4 %. This was down 0.6% compared to the second quarter of 2019. Capacity for the second quarter of 2021 was down 5.1% compared to the second quarter of 2019.

Spirit says numerous weather systems over the second quarter impacted operations and on-time performance. Spirit Airlines had an on-time performance of 78.3% in the April-June period and a flight completion factor of 99.3%.

The airline’s $859.3 million operating revenues for the second quarter of 2021 were 15.2% down compared to the second quarter of 2019. While load factors compared favorably with the 2019 period, operating yields were down 10.0% across the April-June period compared to the second quarter in 2019.

Spirit Airlines is holding onto liquidity of $2.2 billion. Photo: Spirit Airlines

Five new planes for Spirit Airlines in the 2nd quarter

However, Spirit Airlines says yields steadily improved over the second quarter of 2021. By June, operating yields were roughly on par with June 2019 levels. Capacity grew 28% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter, but total revenues improved 86.3% over that period.

“We continue to be emboldened by the value of the ultra-low-cost model, our valuable network, and our strong operational performance,” said Scott Haralson, Spirit’s Chief Financial Officer.

In the three months to June 30, Spirit Airlines took delivery of five new A320neo aircraft. Spirit Airlines financed three planes through direct operating leases and two under sale lease back transactions. At the end of the quarter, Spirit’s fleet stood at 164 planes.

Spirit’s fleet grew to 164 planes in the 2nd quarter of 2021. Photo: Spirit Airlines

Spirit’s network continues to grow

Spirit Airlines continued to ramp up its network over the second quarter. The airline added new routes through LaGuardia Airport to San Juan, Nashville, and Los Angeles. New international services began from Los Angeles with flights added to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.

Spirit Airlines added dour new destinations from Kansas City, doubling the airline’s direct flights from the midwest city. Louisville, KY, Milwaukee, WI, Pensacola, FL, and St. Louis, MO, all saw their first Spirit flights.

But it was Spirit’s arrival in Miami that captured the headlines. From zero flights to 30 domestic and international destinations out of MIA in just three months, Spirit’s new Miami footprint will supplement flights from the airline’s Fort Lauderdale hub.

While acknowledging the present uncertainties in the airline industry, Spirit Airlines expects air travel demand will continue to recover over the remainder of 2021. All going well, the airline aims to return to profitability later this year.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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