Weeks after Condor announced job losses and a reduction in crossings, the low-cost carrier has warned that it will need to continue thinning its schedule – operating less than 40% of the services planned before the pandemic for the rest of the year.
The airline has already said that its services from Southend and Newcastle to Jersey are to disappear, as the company closes its bases at the airports.
And following the launch of the Edinburgh route in 2018, the airline has now confirmed that the link has been axed.
Its Liverpool services have been cut from seven flights a week to three and seasonal flights to Belfast are finishing over a month ahead of schedule.
There is also just one easyJet flight between Gatwick and Jersey each day during the week and two at the weekend. This time last year there were three or four easyJet departures to Gatwick each day.
Ports of Jersey have revealed that up until August, 337,442 people passed through the Airport – a 829,796 drop [-71.1%] compared to the 1,167,238 recorded by the end of August last year.
Robert Mackenzie, managing director of CI Travel Group, warned that fewer flights could make it more expensive for Islanders to leave Jersey.
‘With less availability and less capacity prices will increase. As aircraft fill, the price will increase in line with remaining capacity,’ he said.
‘The good thing is that easyJet do respond to the market, so if demand does show signs of recovery, they will look at increasing their schedule and services. It is quite easy to add flights back and we saw that when Jersey reopened its borders.
‘There could be some further fine-tuning of their schedules, but it would be very disappointing if there was a significant reduction to their current capacity. The long-term concern is that when we lose routes, it makes them very difficult to get them back.’
In recent months, hotels have appealed to locals for support, with staycation and dine-out offers, but it has not made up for the shortfall in tourists.
Christopher Peach, general manager of the Raddisson Blu, said that the worst was yet to come.
He also warned that with pessimistic-looking forward bookings, Islanders could be faced with a smaller choice of flights and destinations when trying to get out of the Island.
‘We have seen a massive decline in business, although we have managed to stay open and afloat, just, during Covid. But from the point of view of someone trying to get off the Island it is going to become more inconvenient – the lack of tourists coming into Jersey will affect demand [for flights],’ Mr Peach said.
‘We are not going to see corporate travel as much as we did last year, which is important to help us get through the winter with reduced visitor numbers.
‘Also, going into the middle of September, bookings start to drop and we would normally see more older visitors around that time. However, I think with Covid there will be a lot more reluctance from them to travel. The next three months are going to be very bleak and I am saying that quite reservedly.’
Matt Thomas, chief executive of Ports of Jersey, said it was not surprising that airlines were adapting their schedules but was hopeful the situation would recover.
‘At the current time, given the highly dynamic impact of the virus on market demand for flying, it is understandable that our airline partners are continuously reviewing demand, especially as we head into the autumn and winter seasons and revising schedules accordingly,’ he said.
‘We continue to work closely with our airline partners and are confident that in time, as the impact of the pandemic passes, business levels will increase and we will see a return of viable services on these routes.’
In a statement, an easyJet spokesperson said that they were ‘continually reviewing our schedule’ in line with customer demand.
They added: ‘EasyJet can confirm that it will not resume flights between Jersey and Edinburgh.
‘We continuously review our network and are focused on maintaining and developing routes which prove most popular with our customers.
‘easyJet will continue to operate flights from Jersey to Glasgow.’