UK Airlines Push For Reopening Of International Travel

Bosses of leading UK airlines are pushing for the reopening of international travel. The CEOs of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Jet2, easyJet, Loganair, and TUI have written to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for the ban on non-essential international travel to be done away with by May 17, 2021.

When the current stringent restrictions are lifted, the UK will adopt a risk-based traffic light system for international travel. Photo: easyJet

Currently, United Kingdom residents are banned from traveling overseas for all but compelling circumstances and face a fine of up to £5,000 ($6,900) if they are caught trying to go on vacation outside the country. Under the plan currently in place, these rules are not scheduled to be lifted until May 17, 2021, at the earliest.

When foreign travel restrictions are removed, the UK will adopt a risk-based traffic light system with red amber and green lights indicating a country COVID-19 risk factor.

Airlines are relying on a busy summer

In the letter published by the Sun newspaper and carried by ITV News, the airline executives said that they realize international may not be possible until May 17 and are prepared and ready to take UK vacationers abroad.

“However, there can be no economic recovery without aviation, and we are confident we now have the tools to enable a safe and meaningful restart to travel in May – allowing us to return to our job of reuniting friends and family, supporting trade and business and allowing Britons to enjoy a well-earned break again,” the letter stated.

It added: “We believe vaccinated passengers should not be subject to travel restrictions and that testing can also reduce the barriers to travel including for areas that are considered to present some risk. Only very high-risk areas would be subject to more stringent measures.”

The UK is doing a great job with vaccinations

The United Kindom has been a world leader in getting its citizens vaccinated against COVID-19. On Friday, the BBC reported that more than 31 million people had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Now, in a race to prevent the spread of a faster-spreading variant of the virus, the UK is trying to vaccinate as many adults as possible before the summer.

The UK government is now inviting residents of England aged 50 and up to make appointments for their vaccinations. The first four priority groups, those aged over 70, care home residents, first responder, and those people required to shield from the virus, all received their injections by mid-February.

UK PM Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is expected to give an update on international travel tomorrow. Photo: Getty Images

Once everyone over 50-years-old has received the vaccination, it will then go to people over 40, then 30, then 20, and then be open for everyone else.

In his Easter Monday press conference to the nation, the Prime Minister is expected to announce whether or not the UK can move to the next stage of opening back up. He is also expected to talk about easing restrictions on foreign travel and the possibility of COVID-19 passports.

With regards to the country’s traffic light system, it will be based on the following factors:

  • The proportion of the population that has been vaccinated
  • Rates of COVID-19 infections
  • New emerging variants of the virus
  • The ability to access reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

How will the traffic light system work?

  • People traveling to countries listed as green will not need to self-isolate on their return but will still need to present departure and arrival PCR tests.
  • People traveling to counties in the amber and red groups would remain under the current controls requiring them to quarantine or self-isolate.
  • The government says that it will rate countries on the number of people who had been vaccinated, the rates of infections, and any emerging new variances.

Businesses want British tourists

It is not only the airlines who want to see a return to summer travel with tourist-linked businesses all around the Mediterranean eager to welcome back British visitors. While all the talk of COVID-19 travel certificates/passports is giving people hope, there remains a vast number of people who are against the idea as it will create two classes of citizens, those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t.

Also, just because the British government agrees to let its citizens go overseas does not mean that it is all plain sailing. Fearing an influx of workers returning home from France and Spain over the spring school holidays, Morocco closed its borders to all flights and ferries, stranding thousands of French and Spanish residents with no way of getting home.

TUI Boeing 757 Skiathos Getty
Flight to Greece and Turkey have seen a surge in bookings. Photo: Getty Images

If you are planning a summer sun vacation from the UK, your best bets for not getting stuck abroad or having to self-isolate on your return are Portugal and Malta, with both of them expected to be in the green category. Other counties expected to make the green list are Israel, Barbados, the United States, the Maldives, and the UAE.

Are you planning to get away on a summer holiday from the UK, or do you think it is still not the right time to be venturing abroad? Please tell us what you think in the comments.