Budget airline Wizz Air becomes first to restore flights from London to European destinations


Budget airline Wizz Air has become the first to restore routes from London to European destinations, with planes scheduled to take off as early as next week.

Flights will be leaving London Luton airport for Tenerife, Lisbon, Budapest and other major cities from May 1. Seats are priced as low as £16.99.

The continent-wide coronavirus lockdown has seen European air traffic plummet by at least 90 per cent, according to IATA, as countries battle coronavirus outbreaks. 

It comes as the chief executives of Gatwick and Heathrow call on national governments to sort out a framework for international travel that would still allow Britons to take their summer holidays.

Wizz Air will restart flights from London Luton on May 1 to cities in Europe and Israel

Cabin crew will be required to wear face masks and gloves on planes and passengers will be asked to use hand sanitiser. Planes will be disinfected overnight

Cabin crew will be required to wear face masks and gloves on planes and passengers will be asked to use hand sanitiser. Planes will be disinfected overnight

Wizz Air announced a raft of protective measures to allow its planes to get back in the sky. 

Cabin crew will be required to wear masks and gloves throughout flights and distribute sanitising wipes to passengers. Aircraft would also be disinfected overnight following flights.

It is expected flights will be a third empty to allow more space between passengers after Wizz’s chief executive Jozsef Varadi said the company was planning to make these changes earlier this month. 

The airline has not said there will be a requirement to wear masks on flights, although many already do.

Major low-cost rival Ryanair has kept 99 per cent of its fleet on the ground, but continues to fly limited scheduled flights, which will continue until April 30. Another low-cost carrier, EasyJet, is taking bookings from May 18.

Wizz Air aircraft pictured delivering a shipment of protective gear from China to Hungary

Wizz Air aircraft pictured delivering a shipment of protective gear from China to Hungary

The boss of Britain's second busiest airport also called for travellers to be required to carry 'health passports' when travelling on international flights. Pictured: Gatwick airport

The boss of Britain’s second busiest airport also called for travellers to be required to carry ‘health passports’ when travelling on international flights. Pictured: Gatwick airport

The lockdown has swept income from airlines causing Virgin Atlantic to call for a state bailout in order to stay afloat as others teeter near the edge.

The chief executive of Gatwick, Stewart Wingate, has demanded ministers establish a framework to allow planes to get back into the air.

He said passengers should be required to have compulsory tests for the virus 48 hours before travel and carry ‘health passports’ certifying their health.

He added they should wear face masks on flights, although noted that many already are taking this precaution.

The Department for Transport has set up a working group with the aviation industry to begin discussions for how to get the industry moving again as Britain emerges from lockdown.

The European Union’s commission president Ursula von der Leyen has indicated the bloc will find ‘smart solutions’ to allow air travel to re-commence.

She told Portuguese publication Expresso Sunday vacations may be a ‘little different, with other hygiene measures, with a little more social distance,’ but that solutions will be found.

But she warned in an interview with German newspaper Bild earlier this month it is hard to make reliable forecasts for holidays in July and August.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Britain's second busiest airport

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, (left) has called for the government to enact measures to get flights in the air again. The Department of Transport, led by Grant Shapps (right) has set up a working group to discuss options

Passenger numbers have plummeted since the Foreign Office advised against all except essential travel.

It is estimated that 140million fewer passengers will take to the air this year, hitting the sector with an estimated £21.1billion in lost revenue.

From May 1 Wizz Air will start flying to Budapest, eight destinations in Romania, Lisbon, Tenerife and Tel Aviv in Israel subject to no further restrictions.

Managing Director of Wizz Air, Owain Jones, said: ‘As we restart selected Luton flights to provide an essential service to passengers who need to travel, our primary concern is the health, safety and well-being of our customers and crew. 

‘The protective measures that we are implementing will ensure the most sanitary conditions possible. 

‘We encourage our customers to watch our new video on how to stay safe when travelling, as well as for more details on our new health and safety measures.’

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