The chief executives of many of the airlines that offer UK-US passenger services have called for the re-opening of transatlantic travel.
Ahead of the G7 meeting in Cornwall later this month, the aviation leaders said the move was essential to igniting an economic recovery.
The executives urged both governments to take a data-driven and risk-based approach to re-opening borders to travel, arguing vaccination programmes had changed the dynamic.
A line-up of American Airlines chief executive, Doug Parker, British Airways chief executive, Sean Doyle, Delta Air Lines chief executive, Ed Bastian, Heathrow chief executive,
John Holland-Kaye, JetBlue chief executive, Robin Hayes, United chief executive, Scott Kirby, United States Travel Association chief executive, Roger Dow, and Virgin Atlantic chief executive, Shai Weiss, joined forces at the panel event, hosted by Duncan Edwards, chief executive of BritishAmerican Business.
Weiss 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.
“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.
“After 15 months of restrictions, the time to act is now.”
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 ‘green list,’ which means travellers from the US would no longer need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK.
They also examined the benefits that would arise from the US lifting the UK-related travel ban (the so-called 212(f) order) to open up the transatlantic corridor for UK residents to enter the US.
The US is the largest trading partner for the UK, and 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.
“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 travellers are vaccinated or can produce a negative PCR test prior to boarding a flight,” said Bastian.
“Our modelling studies conducted with Mayo Clinic put the risk of transmission on a plane traveling between the UK and US at one in one million.”