British Airways CEO Pushes For Fewer Restrictions For Vaccinated Travelers

Vaccination efforts worldwide are helping countries reduce the risk of coronavirus among their respective populations. For example, the United Kingdom recently passed the milestone of giving 20 million adults their first doses. As such, Sean Doyle, the CEO of flag carrier British Airways, hopes that vaccinated citizens will be able to travel without facing restrictions.

British Airways, Long-Haul, Revenue
Sean Doyle took over as BA’s CEO from Álex Cruz last October. Photo: Getty Images

Drive to reopen travel to vaccinated customers

According to The Independent, Mr Doyle doesn’t predict that pre-coronavirus demand levels will return until 2023-24, at a “best guess.” Despite this, the airline has seen surges in booking for dates beyond the UK’s provisional May 17th international reopening.

However, it is still uncertain as to what, if any, restrictions international travelers will face after this date. With that, and the UK’s impressive vaccination efforts, in mind, Doyle, who has been in his role for five months, is driving for a relaxation of restrictions for vaccinated passengers. He believes:

People who’ve been vaccinated should be able to travel without restriction. Those who have not been vaccinated should be able to travel with a negative test.”

Barcelona British Airways
British Airways has seen increased demand for the period following May 17th. Photo: Getty Images

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Doyle’s position is closely aligned to that of the Spanish government. Spain is a popular summer holiday destination among Brits. As such, the Iberian country believes that, by opening a travel corridor for vaccinated passengers, it will boost the recovery of its tourism industry. However, it is not just the European market that has seen increased demand. Doyle explains:

People do want to look forward to a holiday. And we have seen both our long and short-haul destinations really drive some big bookings as we head into summer. It’s also pretty obvious that countries and governments want to see British tourists again.”

Plans for a digital health pass

BA is also planning to build a digital health pass into its mobile app. Such a system would allow vaccinated passengers to register this information with the airline for future journeys.

Ryanair summer routes
Ryanair has already launched an in-app health pass. Photo: Getty Images.

Such a concept is becoming increasingly popular among airlines worldwide. For example, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair launched its own in-app digital health passport earlier this week. This will allow passengers to prove their health status with regards to COVID-19 before they travel.

Two months until international travel resumes

The United Kingdom is currently in the process of cautiously exiting its third national lockdown. The country is approaching the first anniversary of its first lockdown period, which commenced on March 23rd, 2020. As it stands, its roadmap out of lockdown will allow international leisure travel to resume on May 17th. Coincidentally, this is the same date as Saudi Arabia’s reopening. This date is subject to approval on April 12th.

Heathrow Terminal 5
How long will it be before BA sees Heathrow Terminal 5 this busy again? Photo: Mike McBey via Flickr

Currently, passengers looking to exit the country must complete a form declaring the reason for their journey. They are also subject to pre-departure testing, which began in January. This was also a month that saw the scrapping of the previous ‘travel corridors’ system. As such, all inbound travelers are subject to a mandatory quarantine period. This is despite the requirement to produce a negative coronavirus test before commencing their journey to the UK.

What do you make of Mr Doyle’s drive for vaccinated passengers to face fewer travel restrictions? Do you have any upcoming journeys with British Airways in the pipeline? Let us know your thoughts and plans in the comments!