The government “would be better to look at cancellation policies” than issue blanket instructions to consumers not to book summer holidays, according to easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren.

The easyJet chief has revealed he wrote to the government after foreign secretary Dominic Raab insisted “now is not the time to book a summer holiday” last week.

Raab’s comments were followed by a succession of senior members of the government making similar remarks.

Lundgren said: “More relevant would be [to say] ‘Choose an airline or holiday company that gives you the confidence to make a booking’.”

He argued: “We are leading the industry by offering refunds to customers even if their flight operates. No one else is doing this. Customers can book with confidence.”

Lundgren said: “I did send a note when that comment was made, saying it would be better to look at cancellation policies. You can book [with us] with confidence. Even if your flight operates, you will get your money back in cash.”

However, Lundgren declined to hit out at ministers and insisted he remains optimistic about travel rebounding as restrictions are relaxed.

Speaking as easyJet reported losses in excess of £400 million for three months to December, he said: “The government has a tremendously difficult task, but whatever is put in place needs to be targeted.

“Quarantine is the single biggest barrier to making a booking. The introduction of the latest measures is having an impact on demand.

“[But] there are some positive indicators. Once the vaccines are rolled out, the government can implement a plan on how to start travel.

“The Prime Minister has said he will look to come back on February 22 on how to unwind restrictions. That is a positive step.

“We know when that happens there is increasingly pent-up demand [because] whenever restrictions are lifted we see a spike in bookings.”

Lundgren insisted: “The key to unlocking travel will be vaccines, combined with governments lifting travel restrictions when it’s safe to do so.”

He added: “The UK seems in a pretty good position [on vaccines]. Vaccination seems most advanced in our core markets [in Europe].”

EasyJet plans to fly no more than 10% of its capacity up to March, but Lundgren said: “We retain the ability to ramp up swiftly.”

Asked about the new requirement for airlines to check whether passengers have a valid reason to travel, Lundgren said: “It’s just another layer of complexity at the airport. We are looking at how we do that.”