MIAMI – British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic (VS), and with London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) believed that travel opening on May 17 was the right path.
Unfortunately, this hope never materialized due to the UK’s “traffic light” travel restrictions system that left the US out of reach for travelers not wanting to undergo a quarantine on both sides of the pond. As hopes are hard to die, BA, VS, and LHR are taking advantage of the G7 meeting expected this coming weekend to be back in their corresponding airspaces.
The three entities estimate that with the presence of the President of the United State in the gathering, the G7 summit is the right occasion for leaders to make a quick decision on the opening of a travel corridor between the two countries considering the high rate of vaccinations on both sides and a more controlled spread of COVID-19 cases.
Comments from Airlines
Shai Weiss, VS CEO, pointed out that borders had been closed down since March 2020 and asked the UK Prime Minister and US President to “lead the way and open the skies.” He also indicated that the G7 summit was the right moment and place to do it. He was joined by United Airlines (UA) CEO, Scott Kirby, who said airlines could be ready to add full capacity in a very short time.
On his part, BA CEO, Sean Doyle, also pointed out a particular aspect of air travel to/from the US, namely the high revenue business travel coming from tourism.
Striking While the Iron is Hot
Other comments were made by American Airlines (AA) CEO, Doug Parker, and LHR Airport John Holland-Kaye, the latter pointing out the special relationship that exists between the UK and the US, both political and economic, while the former indicated that re-opening of travel between the two countries would be a strong worldwide signal the recovery is happening or at least beginning to occur.
It is of course in the aforementioned airlines’ best interest to open the trans-Atlantic skies. But the fact that these competing airlines got together to voice this plead to leaders before the upcoming G7 summit speaks volumes as to the current state of commercial aviation and the possible talks that will take place this weekend in Cornwall, on the southwest coast of the UK.
Featured image: British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner G-ZBJM. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways. Article sources: thenationalnews.com, CNN and Airways.