LONDON - British airline easyJet said domestic bookings for December had risen significantly this week compared to last week after news that some COVID-19 restrictions in its home market would be eased.
England's current lockdown bans most international travel, but when it ends on Dec. 2 people will be free to go abroad. Over Christmas, COVID-19 restrictions across the UK will be relaxed to allow families to mix for five days.
The prospects for travel were also boosted after a rule change in England earlier this week which means from mid-December, arrivals in the UK can shorten their quarantine to five days from 14 if they test negative for coronavirus.
EasyJet said bookings for flights from London and Bristol to Belfast, and London to Edinburgh had risen, and it had seen a 200% increase in searches for both flights and holidays to beach destinations for next year.
"We know underlying demand is there, which we see every time travel restrictions are lifted," easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said in a statement on Thursday.
"We continue to closely review our flying programme to ensure we are aligning our schedule with customer demand."
The pandemic has battered easyJet's finances, forcing it to axe 4,500 staff, sell planes and take on new debt, and Lundgren has said a recovery depends upon travel restrictions being removed.
(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle) ((email@example.com; +44 20 7542 1109; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))