EasyJet has received criticism from environmentalists after announcing the launch of 12 new domestic flight routes in the wake of widespread restrictions on foreign travel.
Environmentalists have accused the budget airline of putting profits over planetary health.
“Domestic flights have long been a symbol of how our economic system incentivises our own destruction,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK.
“Companies like easyJet claim to take sustainability seriously, but their announcement of 12 new domestic routes, including one under 200 miles, shows they will not prioritise our planet's health over their profits until they are forced to do so by law.”
By plane, the journey between Liverpool and Bournemouth will take around an hour, while the Birmingham to Newquay route will take an hour and 15 minutes by air. Travelling by train to the same locations takes more than five hours and involves changing trains.
EasyJet’s new routes were previously served by Flybe and Stobart Air – which operated Aer Lingus Regional – but both companies collapsed during the pandemic.
Britain’s biggest budget carrier has said that the new flights will provide Brits with more opportunity to reconnect with friends and family across the country or enjoy a long-awaited break and explore more of the UK this summer.
“We know our customers can’t wait to be reunited with friends and family or to explore the UK so these additional new routes today should prove popular and will further strengthen our UK domestic network, providing customers with even more choice,” commented Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK country manager.
“We also know it is important to our customers to be reunited with loved ones overseas so we continue to urge the UK government to add more countries to the ‘green list’ – which can be done safely – to make this possible.”
The new easyJet routes will begin from July, costing from as little as £14.99 one-way. Flights are frequently cheaper than train travel in the UK.
“The UK government claims to be a climate leader but is considering lowering taxes on domestic flights despite them being cheaper than train fares on many routes,” said Sauven.
“What will it take to make ministers understand that you can't hit carbon reduction targets without carbon reduction policies?”
The travel industry has suffered thousands of job losses and falling share prices since coronavirus hit, and many companies have collapsed under the financial strain of the pandemic.
Ministers recently removed Portugal from the travel “green list” and no countries have been added to England’s quarantine-free list since it launched its travel “traffic light” system in May.
Seven countries have recently moved from the amber to red list.