JUNE 7, 2021
Airline industry executives on Monday called on the U.S. and the United Kingdom to reopen transatlantic travel.
During a virtual press conference, airline executives said President Biden should lift restrictions on U.K. travelers who can provide a negative COVID-19 test or are fully vaccinated. Most non-U.S. citizens who have been in the U.K. within the last 14 days are barred from traveling to the U.S. under restrictions instituted in March 2020.
The reopening push comes ahead of Biden’s planned visit with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Group of Seven meeting this week.
Industry executives argued travel between the two countries is safe thanks to an uptick in vaccinations. Nearly 64 percent of American adults have received at least one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 75 percent of U.K. adults have received their first dose, according to the U.K. Department of Health.
“As we see people reclaiming their lives and reconnecting with loved ones, it’s clear that the infection rates of our countries indicate an extraordinarily low risk to travel between the U.S. the U.K., provided travelers are vaccinated or can produce a negative PCR test prior to boarding a flight,” said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines. “Our modeling studies conducted with Mayo Clinic put the risk of transmission on a plane traveling between the UK and US at 1 in 1 million.”
While COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the U.S., a new COVID-19 strain first identified in India has caused infection rates to rise in the U.K.
The U.S. Travel Association said the U.S. economy will lose out on $325 billion in revenue and 1.1 million jobs by the end of the year if travel restrictions remain in place.
Airlines have been pushing Biden to lift restrictions on international travel for months, but haven’t received any promises from the White House.