--Airlines and travel companies have reported a surge in U.K. flight and holiday bookings

--The rise in bookings follows the news that England could potentially reopen its skies to international travelers from May 17

--Shares in European travel companies are trading up on the news


By Anthony O. Goriainoff and Olivia Bugault


Several of Europe's travel-industry mainstays have reported a surge in bookings on Tuesday after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's unveiling of England's roadmap out of lockdown on Monday, saying that international travel could potentially resume from May 17.

London-listed budget airline easyJet PLC said flight bookings from England rocketed by 337% for the summer season and bookings for easyJet Holidays rose 630% on week after Mr. Johnson addressed the country. Mediterranean beach resorts--in countries such as Spain, Portugal, and the Greek island of Crete--are among the top destinations for summer 2021, and travel in August followed by July and September were proving the most popular months, the low-cost carrier said.

German travel group TUI AG said bookings were up 500% after Mr. Johnson's comments, with huge demand for travel to Greece, Spain and Turkey from July onward.

Ryanair Holdings PLC said it had seen a "large surge in bookings from the U.K. to holiday destinations in Spain, Greece and Italy," adding that this was an encouraging trend and showed the importance of providing customer confidence.

Thomas Cook Group PLC, now an online-travel operator, said traffic rose 75% on Monday, the bulk of which came after the prime minister's announcement. Bookings continued to flood in, and not just for summer as people were "booking holidays well into 2022," it added. The company said that Turkey was their number-one destination, with Greece and Cyprus following close behind. As for long-haul, Thomas Cook said the Dominican Republic and Mexico were also performing well.

Sean Doyle, the chief executive officer of British Airways--which is part of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA--said "it is critical we start looking at a way to restart travel and we are pleased the government has acknowledged that." The airline didn't comment on a potential increase in flight bookings.

The travel industry has been among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic and hopes that the U.K.'s skies might reopen again sent a positive signal to the market, triggering a rally in European travel stocks.

At 1301 GMT, shares in easyJet were up 7.0%, TUI traded 2.0% higher, and Air France-KLM climbed 4.6%. IAG, Ryanair and other European airlines were also trading higher on Tuesday.


Write to Anthony O. Goriainoff at anthony.orunagoriainoff@dowjones.com and Olivia Bugault at olivia.bugault@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 23, 2021 08:29 ET (13:29 GMT)

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