Covid live: Minister says ‘I’d rather over-react’ to variant as mask mandates back in England; Japan confirms first Omicron case

EasyJet said near-term bookings had weakened since the new Omicron variant was identified amid concerns over travel restrictions, but it still expects passenger numbers to return to close to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the summer.

The airline reported a loss before tax of £1.1bn for the year to 30 September, wider than the £835m loss made in 2020, but the figure was better than analysts had expected.

Johan Lundgren, the chief executive, said that while “many uncertainties remain as we navigate the winter”, the airline expects to benefit from a bounce back.

“We’re seeing very strong demand into next summer” Lundgren said, “because there is very strong pent-up demand. We have more revenue for next summer than we had at this point in time for the summer of 2019.”

Commenting on demand since the new variant emerged, easyJet said: “It’s too soon to say what impact Omicron may have on European travel and any further short-term restrictions that may result.

Read more of Julia Kollewe’s report: EasyJet says Omicron variant already affecting bookings

The Guardian

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