Recovery in UK bookings unaffected by AstraZeneca setback, airlines say

FILE PHOTO: A Jet2 Boeing 737-300 airplane takes off from the airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2018. Picture taken July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – A recovery in UK travel bookings appears undimmed by the suspension of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine elsewhere in Europe, airlines said on Tuesday, as the setback threatens to delay immunisation campaigns in affected countries.

France, Germany, Italy and 10 other EU states have paused vaccinations with the AstraZeneca shot pending the investigation of unusual cases of cerebral thrombosis in a small number of people who had received it.

If sustained, the suspension could hamper efforts to bring the pandemic under control and exit lockdowns, particularly in countries such as France whose vaccination plans rely heavily on supplies from AstraZeneca.

But a steady improvement underway in summer flight bookings from the UK, which is ahead of the EU on vaccination and has not suspended the AstraZeneca jab, so far shows little sign of abating.

“There’s been no dent whatsoever” in ticket sales, said a spokesman for low-cost airline Jet2, which on Monday announced additional flights to destinations including the Canary Islands, Spain, Greece and Turkey.

“If anything the numbers that we saw to Turkey over the last 24 hours are strengthening.”

Wizz Air, which is also betting on strong UK demand for “sun-and-sea” Mediterranean destinations, said it was too early to draw conclusions.

“Currently we do not see any fallout in bookings related to the suspension (of) the AstraZeneca vaccine,” a Wizz spokesman said.

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