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Airline CEOs Want the UK and U.S.A. Travel Corridor Re-opened

Before the COVID-19 crisis, airline carriers at London’s Heathrow Airport flew to 30 U. S. cities daily.  “Let’s get back to business,” said John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow.  “If not now, when?”

Airline chief executives from the United Kingdom and U. S. are scheduled to meet at the G7 Summit June 11-13.  “The G7 Leaders' Summit in 2021 is presided over by the UK and aims to unite leading democracies to help the world build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and create a greener, more prosperous future.” https://sdg.iisd.org/events/g7-leaders-summit-2021/

In preparation for the meeting, executives at American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, and JetBlue Airways have joined forces to call for immediate reopening of transatlantic air travel between the two countries, stating that to do so would be essential to economic recovery.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Shai Weiss said, “We are asking Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden to lead the way and open up the skies, and we’re asking them to do so at the summit.  The numbers and the data support it – this is not a choice between health and travel.”

For transatlantic routes to reopen, the UK would need to add the U. S. to its green list of countries from which arrivals are not required to quarantine, and the U. S. needs to lift its ban on UK arrivals via the 212(f) presidential order.  Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian said, “The sooner we can start here, the sooner we can start in other countries.” 

JetBlue Airways chief executive Robin Hayes added, “The human cost is devastating, with families and friends unable to meet for more than a year.”

The executives believe that the advanced vaccination programs in both the UK and U. S. are leading the global crusade against COVID-19, and therefore, flights should be allowed to resume.  The airline carriers are open to documentation requirements, including proof of vaccinations that establish the health status of individual travelers on both sides of the Atlantic.

COVID-19’s latest curveball may very well continue to ground passengers across the globe, however. 

David Leonhardt of the New York Times wrote in a recent article, “COVID has retreated more quickly in Britain than in almost any other country due to the country’s responses and nationwide restrictions to reduce caseloads of the virus.  Despite this success, Britain is now coping with a rise in COVID cases, and the main cause appears to be the highly infectious virus variant known as delta, which was first detected in India.”