The owners of American and British airlines are calling for the transatlantic reopening


Leaders of the largest airlines in the United States and the United Kingdom have launched a rare joint appeal for Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to hold this week’s G7 meeting to reopen transatlantic travel.

They also said they were ready to support vaccination and testing requirements instead of quarantine to allow for this situation. Show proof of vaccination to participate in daily activities has caused controversy in some parts of the United States.

The aviation industry has been push without success for a transatlantic air corridor for a year, but argues that high vaccination rates in both the UK and the US mean it is now safe to create one.

The unlikely alliance of executives, who are accustomed to working in a fiercely competitive market, hope that the resumption of transatlantic travel will pave the way for a wider reopening.

“We’re going to open up the world,” said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines. “It’s going to happen, and that’s the runner to start with.”

“There’s a lot more at stake here over the holidays, it’s about business, visiting friends and family, coming back and doing business and hiring people,” said Sean Doyle, executive director of British Airways.

The North Atlantic is one of the most lucrative parts of the air travel market, particularly because it attracts business travelers willing to pay for premium seats. According to industry data, the routes were worth about $ 9 billion in revenues for U.S. and British carriers before the pandemic actually closed.

From left to right: Sean Doyle, head of British Airways; John Holland-Kaye, head of Heathrow Airport; and Shai Weiss, head of Virgin Atlantic, on a closed runway at Heathrow Airport in London © Steve Parsons / PA

The reopening of mass travel between the United Kingdom and the United States would require the Biden administration to lift a ban on non-Americans traveling directly from the United Kingdom to the United States. The UK would also need to put the US on its own “Green list” of safe foreign travel destinations, meaning that arriving passengers were not to be quarantined.

Grant Shapps, the UK’s transport secretary, wrote to the BritishAmerican Business lobby group last month and said restoring normal travel between the UK and the US was “a priority”.

“I am eager to lay the groundwork for an Anglo-American framework that can sustain a sustainable return on travel,” Shapps wrote in the letter seen by the Financial Times.

British government officials have said Johnson will raise the idea of ​​opening trips with Biden and other G7 leaders to the meeting in Cornwall later this week.

But one A British official told FT last week that “the best we can get” is a relaxation of U.S. policy that coincides with the country’s independence day celebration on July 4th.

Airline executives said they would all support the need for a vaccination and screening test for vaccinated people, to lift other restrictions on travel between the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We’re ready for vaccination, or testing, or both to begin with,” said Doug Parker, general manager of American Airlines.

Airline travel in the United States has grown as vaccination rates have increased, with the number of travelers to the United States during Memorial Day weekend, the traditional beginning of the summer holidays, growing to nearly 2m per day. But British airlines are not amortized by a similar domestic market.

Roger Dow, chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, noted that “nothing happens until someone gets on a plane.”

“Politicians understand that, or G7 would have been conducted on Zoom,” added Duncan Edwards, executive director of BritishAmerican Business.

Additional reports by George Parker



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