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A British Airways Airbus A319 on approach to London’s Heathrow Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

U.S., U.K. Airlines Call For Eased Travel Restrictions

On Monday, Reuters reported that the leaders of several airlines in the United States and the United Kingdom have called on their respective governments to ease travel restrictions between the two countries. The CEOs of Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and British Airways agree that the high vaccination rates in the US and UK make it safe to restart travel. 

Biden and Johnson G7 Meeting

Later this week, U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson are meeting at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, England. The two leaders are set to meet ahead of Thursday’s Summit.  There, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle has called on both parties to lift travel restrictions and connect the countries once again. 

“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,” Doyle said.

In terms of COVID cases, about 63% of U.S. adults have received one dose of the vaccine, while more than 50% are fully vaccinated. In the U.K., about 77% of adults have received their first shot, while about 53% are fully vaccinated.

The vaccine rollout in the U.K. is focused on getting as many adults their first shot as quickly as possible, meaning many people have had to wait up to 12 weeks for their second dose. In the U.S., the government focused on getting as many people fully vaccinated as possible, so most only waited three to four weeks for their second dose. While the two countries used different methods, both have exhibited effective, quick rollouts compared to most other nations.

U.K. Airlines Desperate for a Travel Corridor

Since March 2020, most non-U.S. citizens have been barred from entering the country if they had been in the United Kingdom in the past 14 days. This was primarily due to the highly infectious variant that emerged in the UK late last year, prompting the country to go into complete lockdown in January 2021.

However, on May 17, non-essential travel was reinstated based on a “traffic light” system, which allows the residents of 12 “green” countries to enter the U.K. The United States is not yet on that list.

Virgin CEO Shai Weiss said, “There is no reason for the U.S. to be absent from the U.K. ‘Green’ list. 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.”

England-based carriers like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are desperate for unrestricted air travel to restart between the United States and the United Kingdom. Unlike in the U.S., U.K. airlines have not benefited from a travel boost in the domestic market.

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