CEOs Call for Transatlantic Air Travel Reopening

The CEOs of the five carriers that offer U.K.-U.S. passenger services – American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic – plus JetBlue, which launches services later this summer, have joined to call on the U.K. and U.S. governments for the re-opening of the U.K.-U.S. travel corridor.

The airline bosses, along with Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye and U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow, issued the call at a panel event, hosted by Duncan Edwards, chief executive of BritishAmerican Business.

The call comes ahead of this week’s G7 meeting in Cornwall.

As of Monday, about 63.5 percent of adults in the U.S. have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, while about half of adults–139 million people–have been fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.K., almost 68 million shots have been given in total, according to the government, including 27.7 million who have been fully vaccinated. 

As part of the appeal to governments, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked to consider removing the need for travelers returning to the U.K. from ‘green list’ countries to complete a PCR test on their arrival, instead calling for lateral flow tests, used in care homes and schools, with only positive tests requiring a PCR test. 

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: “There is no reason for the U.S. to be absent from the U.K. green list. This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the successful vaccination programmes in both the U.K. and the U.S. While transatlantic links with the U.S. are restricted, it’s costing the U.K. economy £23 million each day.”

Sean Doyle, chairman and CEO, British Airways, said: “As President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet this week, they must address the transatlantic ban that is separating our two low-risk countries at a major cost to our citizens and economies. We urgently need them to look to the science and base their judgements on a proper risk analysis, allowing us all to benefit from the protection offered by our successful vaccine rollouts.

“In the U.K. this means making the traffic light system fit for purpose, including a pathway to restriction-free travel for vaccinated travellers, and getting rid of complexity surrounding ‘amber list’ countries, eliminating quarantine and reducing the number of tests passengers are required to take.”

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said, “It’s clear that the infection rates of our countries indicate an extraordinarily low risk to travel between the U.S. the U.K., provided travelers are vaccinated or can produce a negative PCR test prior to boarding a flight.”

Originally published by BTN Europe

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