The five biggest airlines serving the UK have written to the prime minister calling for airport Covid testing to be introduced to re-start travel.
British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Tui Group and Virgin Atlantic have signed a letter from Airlines UK to Boris Johnson urging the UK to join Germany in replacing quarantine with arrivals testing.
The letter said the impact on UK-US air connectivity “is particularly damaging”, being the top inbound tourism market and 8.6% of international flights, the second largest from the UK.
“The requirement to quarantine upon arrival from the United States severely restricts demand from overseas travellers and UK residents alike,” the letter said.
“The average length of stay for US visitors is 6.47 nights, meaning most would have to self-isolate for their visit which is clearly untenable whether travelling for business or leisure.”
The letter goes on to say how in early August, the German government introduced a mandatory free single test on arrival for higher risk countries. Travellers must isolate until a result is produced within 24 hours. A negative result frees the traveller from the need to quarantine for 14 days.
It added: “We believe a UK testing protocol based on the German model would stimulate significant demand whilst protecting public health. It would play a critical role both in supporting US-UK connectivity but also in safeguarding connections with key European and other global markets.
“It should be introduced in the UK alongside the expansion of the ‘international air corridor’ system to a regional level, including States in the US, to support travel from defined lower risk areas within higher risk countries (e.g. New York).”
Airlines UK concluded: “We are ready to support you and your government colleagues in discussions with US counterparts. If UK-US flying at scale is not successfully restored as soon as possible in 2020, the UK’s economic recovery will be stuck on the runway.”