The aviation industry has slammed plans to restart flights between the United Kingdom and the United States.
Industry leaders have criticised plans to resume transatlantic flights as lacking in “clarity.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden will agree to form a committee to provide suggestions on how to resume international travel safely.
Shai Weiss, the CEO of Virgin Atlantic, welcomed it as “a first step toward reopening the skies,” but warned that the “lack of a precise timescale” had left airlines, businesses, and passengers without “much-needed clarity.”
“Transatlantic travel restrictions cost the UK £23 million every day, and despite having one of the best vaccination rates in the world, the UK is now falling behind the EU in reopening,” he said.
“To be viewed as the best destination to do business, visit, and invest in the world, the UK government must act quickly to safely reopen the skies.”
The UK-US aviation route was one of the busiest in the world before the coronavirus pandemic.
Every year, more than five million people from the United Kingdom go to the United States, with 4.5 million individuals traveling the other way.
However, because of coronavirus limitations, anyone coming in the UK from the US must self-isolate for 10 days, and most UK citizens are prohibited from visiting the US, demand has plummeted.
The new group will be chaired by top officials from the Department for Transport and their US equivalents, and will be overseen by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in the UK.
We won’t be able to save jobs or defend livelihoods unless we have a firm date for the return of international travel.
The Business Travel Association’s chief executive, Clive Wratten, described the group as “the latest in a long succession of travel taskforces that have only wrecked greater havoc on our business.”
“Jobs will not be preserved, and livelihoods will not be protected,” he continued, “until we are given assurance on dates for the return of overseas travel.”
In November 2020 and April 2021, the UK government’s own Global Travel Taskforce produced recommendations on how foreign travel can resume.
However, many of the findings have been disputed by the travel industry. (This is a brief piece.)