Airlines and travel stocks rise as UK sets up lockdown exit plans

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Easyjet shares soared nearly 10% on Tuesday after the low-cost carrier reported an increase in summer ticket sales, hours after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out the proposed route for England to emerge from its third COVID-19 lockdown. Flight bookings from the UK increased 337% and holiday bookings 630%, with leisure trips to Malaga, Alicante, Palma, Faro and Crete among the top destinations, and August proved to be the most popular time to travel , easyJet EZJ, + 5.54% said in a statement.

Johnson said the government‘s global travel task force will issue a report on April 12 recommending how international travel can be safely restarted, which it said will “give people time to make their plans for the summer.” The ban on blocking most international travel will last until at least May 17. EasyJet shares, which are up more than 17% so far this year, were up 9.12% in London morning trading on Tuesday. The owner of British Airways International Airlines Group IAG, + 2.50% increased 8%, while the tour operator TUI TUI, + 2.71% increased 6%. Johan Lundgren, easyJet ESYJY CEO, + 6.24%, said Johnson’s announcement had “provided a much-needed confidence boost” for the airline’s UK customers. “We have consistently seen that there is a pent-up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for,” he said. Read: Welcome home: UK arrivals from high-risk countries start checking into quarantined hotels TUI TUI1, + 3.08%, Europe’s largest tour operator, said destinations in Greece, Spain and Turkey were the most reserved during the night, and people chose to travel from July onwards. Travel agency Thomas Cook told the BBC that traffic to its website increased more than 100% on Monday, with bookings “flooded” for countries like the Dominican Republic, Greece, Cyprus and Mexico. Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said travel stocks were optimistic about “the promise of a recovered summer season.” But he warned that “international travel will continue to be problematic and will be subject to restrictions, isolation and testing,” despite bookings soaring. In early February, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC that it was too early to book holidays, either domestically or internationally, and that they would remain banned until “everyone” has received the COVID-19 vaccine. The number of people in the UK who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has exceeded 17.7 million, according to government data. Read: Even one dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduces the risk of coronavirus infection, Public Health England says Johnson also released the latest vaccine efficacy data on Monday, and Public Health England found that one dose of the company’s injection pharmaceutical company Pfizer PFE, -1.28% and its partner BioNTech BNTX, -3.39% reduce hospitalizations and deaths by at least 75%. The analysis of the efficacy of the AstraZeneca AZN vaccine, -0.26%, which has been developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, continues, with promising initial results, Johnson said. The government aims for all people 50 years of age and older, and people with underlying health problems, to receive a first dose of the vaccine by April 15 and a second dose by mid-July. Read: COVID-19 hotel quarantine from high-risk countries to start in UK from Feb 15 Hotel stocks were also boosted by Johnson’s roadmap, with Holiday Inn owner and Crowne Plaza, InterContinental Hotels IHG, down -0.75% adding about 2.15% on Tuesday. Whitbread WTB, + 0.37%, owner of Premier Inn, was up 1.97%. IHG IHG, -0.13% said Tuesday that 2020 was the most challenging year in its history, as it reported a group operating loss of $ 153 million for the year ended December 31, compared to a gain of $ 630 million in the prior year. “2021 has started with many of these challenges still in place, with more significant progress towards recovery for the industry that is unlikely until later in the year and is dependent on global vaccine launches, lifting of restrictions and an acceleration of economic activity, “IHG CEO Keith Barr said in a statement.