EasyJet is paring back its operations to just “essential connectivity” between key UK cities and select international routes, as the low-cost carrier’s home country enters a further national lockdown.

Existing operations will run up to and including 10 January, to enable passengers to return to the UK, after which the airline will enact a new schedule consisting of domestic services from London, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Belfast and Scotland as well a “small number” of European destinations.

EasyJet aircraft disembarking

Source: Stobart Group

“We urge customers needing to return to transfer onto these flights as soon as possible as options to travel after this date will be reduced,” the airline says.

Cirium data shows that EasyJet’s network is already significantly reduced from its normal levels. On 5 January last year the carrier’s seven-day average was at 1,517 flights, whereas this year the figure was down to 390 at the same point.

Of those, 278 were international services, the vast majority of which are set to be cancelled going forward.

“Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic on travel, we continue to call for sector specific support such as has been provided to hospitality, where decisions have directly affected their ability to trade,” says EasyJet. “The same principle should be applied to aviation.”

Passengers affected will be offered a free transfer to a later date, a voucher or a refund.

EasyJet is also urging the UK government to roll out rapid testing technologies to enable passengers to return to the skies safely. “Alongside the welcome roll-out of the vaccine, this will play a vital role in enabling normal life to resume; including travelling again for work, to visit friends and family, or for a much-needed holiday,” it argues.