UK And US Airlines Plead For A Transatlantic Green Travel Corridor

Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic today joined forces to plead for a travel corridor to be opened between the United Kingdom and the United States. The airlines made the call ahead of a meeting of G7 leaders in Cornwall, England, at the weekend.

United Kingdom, United States, Travel Corridor
Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have called for a UK-US travel corridor. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Vaccines have been touted as a way to reopen travel in a post-COVID world. Two nations with a significant vaccinated population are the UK and the US. Despite this, travel between the two nations is unattractive for many and impossible for some. This is due to restrictions on who can travel, tied with quarantine rules for those who can.

A call for travel

Today the CEOs of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Heathrow Airport, JetBlue, United Airlines, the US Travel Association, and Virgin Atlantic hosted a virtual meeting. During the meeting, the group called on both US President Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make travel between the two nations possible. The two Government leaders are set to meet ahead of the G7 Summit on Thursday.

In the United States, 63.5% of adults have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while around half are fully vaccinated. 76.6% of adults have had one dose of the vaccine in the UK, while 52.5% are fully vaccinated.

United Kingdom, United States, Travel Corridor
Around half of US and UK adults have now been fully vaccinated. Photo: Getty Images

In terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, the United Kingdom currently has a rate of 38.8 cases per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, in the US, this rate sits at 26.95, according to the latest data from the CDC.

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A precious corridor

The corridor between the UK and the US is precious to parties on both sides of the Atlantic. According to the meeting of CEOs, UK businesses are losing £23 million each day that travel between the two countries remains closed.

Commenting Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Shai Weiss said,

“There is no reason for the US to be absent from the UK ‘Green’ list… We urge Prime Minister Johnson and President Biden to lead the way in opening the skies, making it a top priority at the G7 Summit.”

United Kingdom, United States, Travel Corridor
United Airlines’ CEO suggested that governments should “follow the science”. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

What needs to happen on the UK side?

Essentially, both sides need to take action to enable travel to the other country. As far as the UK is concerned, travelers from the United States are currently required to self-isolate on arrival for five to ten days depending on how many tests they take and, thus, how much money they spend on these tests. A test on days two and eight are mandated, while an additional day five test to get out of quarantine is optional.

The CEOs want the United States added to the UK Government’s green list. This would mean that travelers would still need to take a rapid test before departure and a PCR test within two days of arrival, but no quarantine would be required.

This seems like it would be a hard sell to the government, given the current state of the green list. Many recently criticized the government for not adding Malta to the limited green list and removing Portugal with little warning.

And what about from the United States?

The US has arguably stricter rules when it comes to prohibiting travel across the Atlantic. With some exceptions, such as US citizens, those who have recently been in the UK or Europe cannot travel to the country. This is known as the 212(f) order, introduced by President Trump just over a year ago.

United Kingdom, United States, Travel Corridor
Despite similar levels of COVID-19 and vaccines, travel between the two countries is still difficult and overly expensive. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

British nationals could theoretically travel to a third country not affected by the ban for two weeks, before traveling onwards to the United States as the prohibition is on where travelers have been recently, as opposed to their nationality. This ban is primarily relevant to when Europe was a hotspot in the early days of COVID-19 and hasn’t been altered by either President Trump or President Biden since it was brought in.

Do you think there is the hope of a US-UK travel bubble opening up? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!