07 June 2021

Aviation bosses call for reopening of UK-US travel

07 June 2021

Aviation leaders have demanded that Boris Johnson and US president Joe Biden ease restrictions on transatlantic travel when they meet this week.

Bosses from UK firms British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport joined senior figures from the US in calling for travel to reopen between the countries.

They issued the plea at a joint virtual press conference held ahead of the meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Biden in advance of the G7 summit in Cornwall.

After 15 months of restrictions, the time to act is now

The US is currently on the UK’s amber list, which means arriving travellers must self-isolate for 10 days.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss claimed there is “no reason” why the US is not on the quarantine-free green list.

He said: “This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the successful vaccination programmes in both the UK and the US.

“While transatlantic links with the US are restricted, it’s costing UK economy £23 million each day.

Connectivity between the UK and the US is one of the great engines of the global econom

“We urge Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden to lead the way in opening the skies, making it a top priority at the G7 summit.”

He added: “It’s really time that we focus on the economic harm that we’re causing the economies on both sides of the pond and of course to businesses, tourists, visiting friends and family, that is so essential.”

Sean Doyle, chairman and chief executive of British Airways, called on Mr Johnson and Mr Biden to “look to the science and base their judgments on a proper risk analysis”.

He said: “We can set the pace for international travel. Two countries with low prevalence of infection, high vaccination rates, low risk. We’ve got to go for it.”

The approach to easing travel rules “has been frustrating”, he explained.

“I think customers and travellers deserve more consistency. It was disappointing the way the Portugal situation was handled.

“I think we can make a much better fist of the framework in giving both travellers and the industry a lot more certainty.”

Portugal was removed from the UK’s green list last week.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “Connectivity between the UK and the US is one of the great engines of the global economy.

“The scientific data shows transatlantic travel and trade can be reopened safely, and every day that policymakers delay puts jobs, livelihoods and the economic chances of hardworking folks across our countries at risk unnecessarily.

“We cannot continue to keep locked up indefinitely.”

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