NEWS: CEOs of all major UK and US airlines unite to call for US-UK corridor

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The CEOs of all airlines that offer UK-US passenger services – American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic joined today with Heathrow Airport and other industry-leading CEOs in calling for the re-opening of transatlantic travel, a move that will be essential to igniting economic recovery.

Top leaders in aviation and travel came together ahead of the G7 meeting in Cornwall later to push for the reopening of the UK – US travel corridor. With high levels of vaccinations in both the UK and the US, the airlines believe that there is a clear opportunity to safely open up travel between these two low-risk countries. The CEOs urged both governments to take a data-driven and risk-based approach to re-opening borders to travel.

A line-up of American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, British Airways CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, United CEO Scott Kirby, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, and Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss joined forces at the panel event, hosted by Duncan Edwards, Chief Executive of British American Business.

The participants spoke up after more than a year of travel restrictions that have deeply impacted the global economy and trade and tourism between the two countries. They discussed the merits of having the US on the UK’s ‘green list’, which means travellers from the US would no longer need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK, as well as the benefits that would arise from the US lifting the UK-related travel ban (the so-called 212(f) order) order to open up the transatlantic corridor for UK residents to enter the US. The US is the UK’s largest trading partner and UK businesses are losing £23 million each day that transatlantic links remain closed. In 2019, 900,000 tonnes of cargo also travelled between the two countries.

In the US, 63.5 percent of adults have received at least one dose, while about half of adults – 139 million people have been fully vaccinated. In the UK, almost 68 million have received shots – more than 75% of the country’s adult population. Studies show that the vaccine programmes in both countries are successfully reducing transmission and the severity of infection, plus fighting variants, and case counts in the US continue to decline rapidly.

The irony is non-US residents can’t enter the US if they have been in the UK in the past 14 days. So instead people desperate to enter the US are going to countries that are not banned such as Costa Rica (now on the UK’s red list from tomorrow) and Mexico for 14 days first which have high rates of Covid which proves what nonsense the policy is!

Shai Weiss with Richard Branson

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic commented: “There is no reason for the US to be absent from the UK ‘Green’ list. 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. 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. Customers, families and businesses need to book and travel with confidence. After 15 months of restrictions, the time to act is now.”

Sean Doyle

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 UK 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.”

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5C

John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow 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. Politicians should seize on the successful vaccination programmes in our two countries to begin looking to a future where we manage COVID rather than letting it manage us.”

“As we see people reclaiming their lives and reconnecting with loved ones, it’s clear that the infection rates of our countries indicate an extraordinarily low risk to travel between the US the UK, provided travelers are vaccinated or can produce a negative PCR test prior to boarding a flight,” said Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines. “Our modeling studies conducted with Mayo Clinic put the risk of transmission on a plane traveling between the UK and US at 1 in 1 million.”


American Airline B777-200

“We’re proud of the measures American and others have taken to navigate the pandemic and ensure we deliver a safe, healthy and enjoyable experience for customers as they return to travel,” said Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of American Airlines. “Reopening travel between the US and UK is a critical next step in both the travel industry and the global economy’s recovery. With vaccine availability continuing to expand, we know that our business and leisure customers are increasingly eager to cross the Atlantic, and we know that when they do, it will provide a major boost to the economies in the US, UK and around the world. We look forward to continuing to work with both governments as they make this important decision.”

“Throughout the pandemic, experts have encouraged governments, businesses and the public to follow the science,” said United’s CEO, Scott Kirby. “United and other airlines have done just that and implemented the necessary safety protocols to confidently re-open key international routes like the air corridor between our two countries. Programs like the trials of COVID-free flights between Newark and Heathrow and the US Department of Defense air filtration study conducted on board United aircraft not only contributed to the body of scientific knowledge, they have demonstrated the near non-existent rates of viral transmission aboard an aircraft. And now, through mobile app, travelers can upload verified test results and vaccine records before international travel. All this with the successful leadership of vaccination efforts by both governments, no interests are served by delaying re-opening of these essential air routes any longer. We are ready.”

“The surge in travel in recent weeks has been remarkable as case counts fall and vaccination rates rise and we’re confident that demand for travel between the US and the UK would follow a similar recovery pattern with an established travel corridor between the two countries,” said Robin Hayes, Chief Executive Officer, JetBlue. “As international destinations have opened to travelers across our Latin America and Caribbean network and traveling has been made easier with fewer border restrictions, we’ve seen a notable uptick in the number of people flying to these destinations. Data has shown that people can travel safely when certain health and safety protocols remain in place and we believe the UK should implement revised border restrictions similar to those that have already been successful in many other countries.”

A recent York Aviation report stated that a second ‘lost summer’ of international travel would result in £55.7bn in lost trade and £3.0bn in tourism GDP if reopening is delayed until September. If international travel remains restricted, it will cost the US economy $325 billion in total losses and 1.1 million jobs by the end of 2021, according to analysis from the U.S. Travel Association. In the UK around 3 million people are employed in the travel industry or businesses dependent on the travel industry. 

“The millions of travel-supported US jobs lost to the pandemic cannot be replaced without the return of international visitors, and the UK is our No. 1 overseas travel market,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Advancing a science-driven approach to restart international travel is crucial, and a US-UK corridor is a logical place to start because of the two countries’ excellent records on vaccinations and declining infections, as well as their strong relationship.”

The group has encouraged the US government to consider lifting entry requirements for UK travellers who have provided a negative COVID test ahead of arriving in the US or are fully vaccinated or can present proof of recovery.

On the UK side, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked to consider removing the need for travellers returning to the UK from ‘green list’ countries to complete an expensive and time-consuming 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.

15 Comments on "NEWS: CEOs of all major UK and US airlines unite to call for US-UK corridor"

  1. Nigel Turner | 7 June 2021 at 9:24 pm | Reply

    All of these people are only interested in profits not people’s health. What a surprise! Let’s get more people vaccinated first! So glad Michelle had a nice break in Portugal, encouraging other idiots to risk the majority !

    • Dear Nigel. We do not accept any sort of name calling as I expect readers to be able to articulate themselves without resorting to insults.

      If you can explain to me how someone fully vaccinated travelling to a county with less Covid than the U.K. after a PCR test and then two negative tests coming back is a risk to anyone I’ll gladly listen. Now if I had gone to spend a few nights in one of the U.K.’s hot spots where rates are 300/100,000 vs Portugal at 35/100,000 then maybe I may have been more negligent. I travelled when the government specifically said it was safe to travel to Portugal. When exactly do you suggest that people should travel?

      It’s also my job to travel and I spent a lot of time there in meetings. It wasn’t “a break”. Pretty much every other travel based publication and news outlet has also been there too and I’m pretty sure that BBC and ITV have far more influence than me.

      And when you say people are only interested in profits in the travel industry, not a single company in the travel industry has made a profit as far as I’m aware. We are all just trying to not end up losing our business or homes. Or having the 3 million people who work in travel loose their jobs. Most travel companies can’t furlough a large amount of staff as they still have to be there to handle cancellations and refunds which makes them lose money, not make it.

      • What an elegant response, Michele!

      • Excellent response Michele. Reasoned, diplomatic and accurate.

        Abiding by the ‘no name calling’ unwritten rule we have here i’ll instead add an edited well know phrase: You can’t teach stu**d.

        On an aside I do hope all those attending G7 were vaccinated, took the required tests and if need be quarantined as expected of the rest of us. Oh wait, no, they come under “Rules for thee but not for me” part don’t they *rolls eyes*

    • Nigel, given your aversion to travel I suggest that a travel blog is not the place for you.

      Seriously, having a pop at a travel professional, trying to make an honest living and using their expertise to help others navigate the minefield of guidance, is pretty low.

      Perhaps you should invest your millionaire bucks in a lovely new sofa, seeing as you’ll clearly be hiding behind it until 2025. Enjoy.

  2. Nigel Turner | 7 June 2021 at 10:52 pm | Reply

    Michelle I have been a GGL member of BAEC since it started and have flown millions of miles all over the world. My last flight was March 2020. I made a decision that flying during a global pandemic would have been stupid and foolish. I have had both jabs but as you well know it does not prevent you catching the virus or spreading it. Thoughtless morons continuing to travel during this crisis will probably be responsible for the UK being closed for much of the rest of 2021 so I am glad you enjoyed your breakfast in the CCR!

    • Oh do bore off. Why on earth would you visit a travel blog to tell others that you’re too scared to travel in perpetuity and criticise them for not sharing your entirely irrational position?

      Double vaccinated (the maximum level of protection available) plus 3 covid tests vs no requirements whatsoever to move freely within ones own borders and it’s those who wish to go abroad who are the problem? Your position has no basis in logic and is an emotional one.

    • Soooo Nigel what you’re saying is that YOU flew when hardly anybody had been vaccinated, especially when compared to today, and the virus was much more prevalent on a global scale. Sounds mighty irresponsible of you if you ask me. In fact i’d go so far as to paraphrase yourself and say ‘Thoughtless morons who travelled at a time when this crisis was more severe are probably responsible for the UK going into it’s second lockdown and for being closed for much of the rest of 2021’

      How utterly selfish and, as you would say yourself, moronic. I hope you enjoyed your flight and time in the Flounge/ CCR!

      Or does your own standard only apply to others Nigel? Pray oh wise sage tell us the future you see from atop your ivory tower

    • Nigel, Nigel, Nigel All studies over the last year and a half have proved air travel is safe. With strict testing regimes and making corridors open between low risk and high rate vaccination countries, it allows businesses to trade, it allows economies to grow, it builds relationships and saves jobs.

      I’m sure your important job that has made you GGL since the beginning of time warranted your amount of travel… question is would it have survived so long if you didn’t travel to meet your clients/suppliers/investors etc.?

  3. Get back in your safe room Nigel,throw away the key and stop bothering the world.

    • It’s about now having a ‘like’ function for comments would be useful. Well said Mr Daly.

  4. Show me the world | 8 June 2021 at 7:18 am | Reply

    Michele: Thank you for this update. Nigel: get your own blog

  5. Keep up the good work Michele! And don’t listen to the sad, bitter people with nothing better to do than have a whinge and a moan. You provide quality information and hope (as opposed to hearsay and scaremongering like many other media outlets) for people like myself who have been separated from my daughters for months on end. Travel isn’t just for people who want to go and sit on a beach. It’s what keeps alot of us going. So thank you.

    • Thanks Jamie. That’s a very important point that you make. People say it’s not a right to have a holiday, but in my book it’s 100% a human right to be able to see your immediate family or partner. Part of my family is in the same situation which is why I am so passionate about finding ways to open travel safely.

      • Nicholas Mackenzie-Rowe | 8 June 2021 at 2:08 pm | Reply

        It is one of the 30 UN fundamental human rights. Breaking that right also breaks the 30th right of not to have any of the other 29 broken. So 2 UN human rights are being breached.

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