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US and UK Airline CEOs Call for Summit To Speed Restart of Transatlantic Travel



Chief executives of the U.S.’ and U.K.’s major airlines today conjointly wrote to representatives of the two national governments, calling for a summit to help hasten the return of Transatlantic travel.

“The airline industry needs adequate lead time to establish a plan for restarting air services, including scheduling aircraft and crews for these routes as well as for marketing and selling tickets,” states the letter addressed to both the U.S. and U.K. transport secretaries, and signed by the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Reuters reported that neither the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., nor the office of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg immediately responded to a request for comment.

The U.S. government halted all non-essential travel from the U.K. back in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated into a full-fledged pandemic, and the situation has remained unchanged for over a year. On the other side of the pond, the U.K. has just unveiled a plan for restarting foreign travel, set to go into effect on May 17. But, it’s currently classifying the U.S. as an “amber” country under the new traffic-light risk analysis system, making American travelers subject to a set of quarantine and testing requirements render the prospect of leisure travel less than appealing.

Already, earlier this month, a coalition of U.S. and European aviation industry groups issued a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson petitioning the two leaders to fully reopen the U.S.-U.K. air travel market as early as the beginning of June, when the two chiefs are already scheduled to meet.

“Safely reopening borders between the U.S. and U.K. is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from COVID-19,” the letter read. “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,” it continued.

Just yesterday, the U.S. State Department softened its travel advisory level for the U.K., bringing it down from a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” rating to a “Level 3: Reconsider Travel”.

The industry camp also opined that citizens of both the U.S. and U.K., “would benefit from the significant testing capability and the successful trials of digital applications to verify health credentials.” On the American side, however, the U.S. government has already stated that it won’t require such so-called “vaccination passports” and hasn’t yet established any standards for helping U.S. travelers prove their vaccination status to foreign governments.

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