United Kingdom

Airline CEOs beg Biden and Boris Johnson to reopen transatlantic travel

American and British airlines are begging Joe Biden and British Prime Minister to reopen transatlantic travel to save both economies and reunite families who have been separated for over a year.

Multiple airlines penned an open letter with the US Chamber of Commerce last week urging an announcement and on Tuesday, the CEOs of of Delta, Virgin, British Airways, American Airlines and JetBlue wrote their own letter. 

They said they need adequate time to plan routes and to staff them after an announcement is made, and that June 11-13 - when the two leaders meet at the G7 in Cornwall - would be the perfect time to announce it.  

'The return of Transatlantic flying would not only have a significantly positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year.' 

Neither Biden nor Boris Johnson have responded to it yet. 

Both the US and the UK have vaccinated roughly a third of their populations and travel to and from each country from multiple others is allowed, but free travel between them has been banned since March 2020. 

Currently, and as has been the case since March last year, a non-US citizen cannot fly directly from the UK into America. 

British rules have fluctuated but currently, anyone from the US can fly to the UK so long as they quarantine for 10 days upon arrival and take multiple COVID-19 tests. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to meet Joe Biden at the G7 next month. The aviation industry says it is the perfect time to announce that open travel can resume between the US and the UK - which has been banned since last March 

A coalition of airlines including British Airways begged the two world leaders to reopen. The airlines have furloughed or laid off tens of thousands of staff, surviving only through freight flights over the last 14 months 

The US has been moved onto a list of Amber countries in the UK that includes dozens of others. 

From May 17, only people traveling from 'Green' countries will be able to enter the UK freely. 

Those countries are Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel and Jerusalem, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Georgia, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. 

Travel is permitted to the US from every country in the world apart from the UK, Europe, China, Iran, the UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India. 

A British national living in America could not therefore return home to the UK, then fly back to America, under the current rules, and an American national living in the UK would only be able to if they quarantined for 10 days when they returned and did COVID-19 tests. 

Now, airlines say it is time for that to change. The coalition of airline had 48 co-signees but was led by Virgin. 

In their letter on May 3 they said: 'We are confident that the right tools now exist to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel,” said the letter from 49 industry groups and unions on both sides of the Atlantic.  

Everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine in America and a third of the country has received at least one dose 

Around a third of the British population has been fully vaccinated and 35million - more than half the country - has received their first dose 

'Safely reopening borders between the U.S. and U.K. is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from Covid-19.'  

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that there will never be a federally-mandated vaccine passport.  

It begs the question of what it will take for the US to reopen travel, given that everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine. 

The flight from London to New York was the most lucrative in the world before the pandemic. There were dozens a day, across multiple airlines and flying in and out of various airports. 

The COVID-19 crippled the airline industry which had to drastically reduce flight schedules and lay off tens of thousands of staff. 

A new report on Tuesday from Airlines for America revealed US airlines incurred $7billion in losses the first quarter of 2021 alone, on top of the $35billion they lost throughout 2020. 

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