Jet2 has reported a huge annual loss of £373.8million following the impact of coronavirus on the travel industry.
The low-cost carrier said it had experienced “unparalleled operational and financial challenges” which has seen it refund over £1.4billion to customers since the start of the pandemic.
Regular bans on foreign breaks saw Jet2 passenger numbers plunge from 14.62 million to just 1.32 million – a 91% drop.
Package holiday numbers were also down 90% for the 12 months to March 31, after restrictions left its fleet of aircraft fully grounded for 29 weeks and with only a significantly reduced programme when flying was allowed.
In its financial update today, the company said it had accessed £1billion in additional funding through shareholder and bank support last year to help it through the pandemic.
However, Jet2 said it remains “optimistic” that sales will improve by summer 2022, depending on if holiday rules continue to ease and it is allowed to fly.
The holiday provider also said the vaccine rollout and expansion of the “green watch list” was a “step in the right direction”.
It announced this week that double-jabbed Britons will be allowed to travel to 140 amber list countries with no quarantine on return.
Holidaymakers in England are currently following a traffic light system which dictates if they have to quarantine when they return home, and how many coronavirus tests they must take.
Under the current rules for “green” countries, you need to take a pre-departure test before you return to England, as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of your arrival back home.
With “amber” destinations, you need to take three tests – one pre-departure, and then PCR tests on day two and day eight after arriving home.
You’re then required to self-isolate for 10 days at home after arrival, although you can choose to pay for a fourth test on day five, and if it comes back negative you can leave quarantine early.
Finally, people travelling to “red countries” must also take three tests – the same as the amber group – and cannot pay for a separate test to get out of quarantine early.
They must also quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at £1,750 a head.
The traffic light system only applies to people in England, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own rules.
Jet2 said: “We believe opportunities for a financially strong, resilient and trusted operators will only increase.”
Jet2 chairman Philip Meeson added: “Unsurprisingly given the continuing short-term uncertainty, customers are booking significantly closer to departure for summer ‘21.
“Bookings to date for winter ‘21/22 are satisfactory, they have slowed more recently given the ongoing speculation around international travel.
“Bookings for summer ‘22, for which package holiday bookings are displaying a materially higher mix of the total, are encouraging and with the vaccination progress being made, we are optimistic that summer ‘22 will be a considerable improvement.”