U.S. and U.K. Aviation CEOs Call for Reopening of Transatlantic Travel

The CEOs of all airlines that offer U.K.U.S. passenger services—including American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic—joined Monday with Heathrow Airport and other industry CEOs in calling for the reopening of transatlantic travel, a move that will be essential to igniting economic recovery.

The leaders in aviation and travel came together ahead of the G7 meeting in Cornwall later this week to push for the reopening of the U.K. – U.S. travel corridor. With strong vaccination programs in both countries, there is a clear opportunity to safely open up travel, enabling consumers on both sides of the Atlantic to reconnect with loved ones, re-establish business relationships and explore new destinations after more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions. The CEOs urged both governments to take a data-driven and risk-based approach to reopening borders to travel.

A line-up of American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, British Airways CEO and chairman Sean Doyle, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, United CEO Scott Kirby, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow and Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss participated at a panel event, hosted by Duncan Edwards, chief executive of British American Business.

The participants spoke up after more than a year of travel restrictions that have deeply impacted the global economy and trade and tourism between the two countries. They discussed the merits of having the U.S. on the U.K.’s “green list,” which means travelers from the U.S. would no longer need to self-isolate on arrival in the U.K., as well as the benefits that would arise from the U.S. lifting its suspension of entry in order to open up the transatlantic corridor for U.K. residents.

In the U.S., 63.5 percent of adults have received at least one dose, while about half of adults—nearly 139 million people—have been fully vaccinated. In the U.K., almost 68 million have received shots—more than 75 percent of the country’s adult population. Studies show, according to U.S. Travel, that the vaccine programs in both countries are successfully reducing transmission and the severity of infection, plus fighting variants, and case counts in both countries continue to decline rapidly.

If international travel remains restricted, it will cost the U.S. economy $325 billion in total losses and 1.1 million jobs by the end of 2021, according to analysis from the U.S. Travel Association.

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