A Glimmer Of Hope? UK Confirms US Travel Corridor Taskforce

During talks scheduled to be held later today, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden are set to discuss re-enabling travel, amid other things. The meeting comes ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall and follows calls for such talks by significant airlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, UK-US Travel Corridor
A task force is to be set up to explore reopening UK-US travel. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Before the pandemic, London Heathrow to New York JFK was the world’s most valuable route, with British Airways earning $1,159,126,794 in one year. Yesterday, Simple Flying delved into just how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the route. However, things could be looking up.

UK-US Travel Taskforce

Today US President Biden is set to meet the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The meeting comes as part of Biden’s first international trip as President and ahead of this week’s G7 summit. The idea that the two would discuss the topic of transatlantic travel is nothing new.

Johnson and Biden are expected to announce an “Atlantic Charter”, which the government said would be accompanied by a series of new policies. While nothing firm has been announced, the two are set to discuss reopening UK-US travel as soon as possible. Commenting ahead of the meeting, Boris Johnson said,

“The agreements President Biden and I will make today… will form the foundation of a sustainable global recovery.”

Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, UK-US Travel Corridor
Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have been calling for such an agreement. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

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What the airlines want

Airlines around the globe are keen for international travel to reopen, as it is essential to most. With that being said, US and UK airlines are eager for a corridor to reopen between the two nations as a priority. Both countries currently have similar COVID-19 infection and vaccination figures, although the Delta variant’s presence in the UK has put some countries on alert.

On Monday, British Airways joined forces with its partner American Airlines and rivals Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and JetBlue to call on an agreement to be reached this weekend. Commenting on today’s announcement, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said,

“Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden can and should take decisive action, just like their predecessors, and we’re pleased to hear they’re prioritising establishing a travel corridor between our two low-risk countries.

Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, UK-US Travel Corridor
Most UK travelers are currently unable to fly to the United States. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

He added,

“This announcement is a step in the right direction, but we are now at a critical point and need action without delay, including clear criteria and a timeline. Anything other than this could result in tough consequences.”​

It seems unlikely that the meeting today will yield any instant results given the UK Government’s cautious approach regarding travel. Last week, the government shocked many by refusing to add Malta to its green list despite incredibly low case rates.

While announcing a task force is better than doing nothing, it also doesn’t guarantee that change will happen. Exploring options for relaunching travel and actually implementing them are two different things.

When do you think travel between the UK and US will reopen? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.