In an open letter to Pete Buttigieg, US Secretary of Transportation, and Grant Shapps, the UK transport secretary, the consortium called for a summit “to explore a path to safely and expeditiously reopen transatlantic travel in a manner that aligns with public health objectives”.
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, United, Delta, American Airlines and Jetblue all co-signed the letter, along with trade association Airlines for America.
“We are confident that the aviation industry possesses the right tools, based on data and science, to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel,” it reads.
“US and UK citizens would benefit from the significant testing capability and the successful trials of digital applications to verify health credentials.”
The airlines emphasised the financial incentive offered by trade for resuming flights between the two countries, citing the fact that this was worth $273bn/£196bn in 2019.
“Safely reopening borders between the US and UK is essential for the continued economic recovery of both nations,” said the collective carriers.
“The return of transatlantic air travel would not only have a significant, positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year. In 2019, over 22 million passengers travelled between the US and the UK, with approximately four million of those travellers visiting friends and family.”
The airline CEOs have called for a summit mapping the safe return of transatlantic travel to take place prior to the G7 summit, which will run from 11-13 June in Cornwall.
It follows the news that the US has downgraded the UK’s risk level in a new travel advisory.
The UK was previously at level four in the States, with a “do not travel” warning.
On 10 May this advice was eased to a level three advisory: “reconsider travel”.
The new guidance for the UK reads: “Reconsider travel to the United Kingdom due to Covid-19. Exercise increased caution due to terrorism.”
A travel ban from the UK to the US has been in place since March 2020. It’s hoped by many in the travel industry that this could be lifted in the next month or two, in light of the UK’s decision to allow the resumption of foreign leisure travel from 17 May under a traffic light system.