In a letter addressed to US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and signed by the US Chamber of Commerce, Airlines for America, Global Business Travel Association, Air Line Pilots Association, Virgin Atlantic, Association of UK Airlines, Aerospace Industries Association and others, aviation groups said the leaders’ planned meeting in early June ‘would be an ideal opportunity for a joint announcement of the full reopening of the US-UK air travel market’.
“The return of Transatlantic flying would not only have a significantly positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year,” the letter read. “Safely reopening borders between the US and UK is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from Covid-19.”
Time is of the essence
Following this, leaders of major airlines groups then called for a summit to speed up the reopening of transatlantic routes. CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue Airways signed a letter addressed to the transport chiefs of the US and the UK, urging the officials to make haste in their decisions to reopen travel routes, as the airline industry required adequate lead time to establish a plan for restarting air services, including scheduling aircraft and crews for these routes as well as for marketing and selling tickets.
While the UK announced that it would allow international travel to resume from May 17, a considerable number of destinations were left of its ‘green list’, including the US. Meanwhile, the US has lowered its travel advisory rating for the UK, but only to ‘Level 3: Reconsider Travel’.
Australia to reopen to international travel mid-2022
Meanwhile, Australia, which recently opened a trans-Tasman travel bubble for quarantine-free travel with New Zealand, has asserted that its borders will likely remain closed to international tourists from the rest of the world until mid-2022, although it could look to launch a travel bubble with Singapore sooner than that, officials muse.
“Our first priority is to keep Australians safe from Covid,” Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, commenting on the announcement, adding that it was ‘quite a conservative, cautious assumption’.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham followed up by adding that the travel restriction was an ‘assumption rather than a binding agreement’, as the country wished to reopen the borders to facilitate international travel as soon as ‘health advice allows’. “International borders we wish to see reopen as early as possible, but no sooner than it is safe to do so, and the key assumption in the budget is that Australia continues to successfully suppress the spread of Covid-19,” he said.