A key debate throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been the matter of reopening travel between Europe and the US. A ban on such journeys is presently in place for most non-US citizens, but President Joe Biden is set to review the matter. All being well, he may provide an update in the coming days, with many Europeans hoping for good news.
Biden set to review the travel ban
US President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday. The pair also gave a press conference, during which it became apparent that the prospect of lifting the US’s existing European travel ban had been raised in their meeting. According to The Independent, Biden revealed to reporters in Washington DC this Thursday that:
“We brought in the head of our Covid team, because the Chancellor brought that subject up. It’s in the process of [seeing] how soon we can lift the ban. It’s in process now. And I’ll be able to answer that question to you within the next several days, what is likely to happen. I’m waiting to hear from our folks, from our Covid team, as to when that should be done.”
Biden’s hint at a potential relaxation will be welcome news to the scores of Europeans that are surely itching to take transatlantic flights this summer. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last month that he wasn’t keen to change the restrictions, which do permit non-citizens to travel to the US for the purpose of ‘significant economic activity.’
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Delta’s vaccine and testing-based push
Presently, non-US citizens who have been in the EU within the last 14 days cannot enter the country. However, Americans themselves are free to do so, particularly with European nations re-opening to US travelers, after revoking its designation as a high-risk area.
Delta Air Lines pushed for a European reopening as early as April, and it has targeted countries like Iceland that opened early to vaccinated passengers. Indeed, Delta was the first carrier to add capacity to the US-Iceland market following Iceland’s announcement. It has also operated ‘quarantine free’ flights to Italy, whereby COVID tests were mandatory.
UK also lobbying for a corridor
A travel ban also presently exists between the UK and the US. However, with the country having left the European Union, it may need to establish terms for a separate ‘travel corridor’ agreement with the US to that of its European neighbors.
This has been a hot topic on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean. Ahead of the G7 Summit last month, which was President Biden’s first overseas trip in the role, a group comprising American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Heathrow Airport, JetBlue, United Airlines, the US Travel Association, and Virgin Atlantic called for a UK-US corridor.
An individual who is fairly confident regarding an imminent relaxation on the BAN is IATA Director General and ex-British Airways CEO Willie Walsh. Speaking last week at an IATA media day, Walsh said that “I think we have to be optimistic that we will see a relaxation in relation to transatlantic flying during the coming weeks.”
What do you make of Biden’s potential plans to cancel the US’s European travel ban? Do you have plans to fly transatlantic any time soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.