Plans for a new taskforce to restore transatlantic travel between the UK and US have been welcomed by Abta, which has also called for the existing traffic light system to be “used as intended”.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps will oversee the new travel taskforce designed to facilitate the resumption of UK-US travel as soon as possible.
An Abta spokesperson said: “The US-UK link is incredibly important for business and leisure travel, as well as UK trade, so steps to get travel restarted are very welcome. However, there is little in this announcement in terms of detail or timings.
“As we move toward the next review of the traffic light system on 28 June, the government needs to make sure the existing traffic light system is used as intended, and that travel to the some of the most popular foreign holiday destinations is opened up in time for the industry to make the most of the critical summer holiday period.”
Virginia Messina, acting chief executive of the WTTC, also called for a “clear timeline” for the resumption of transatlantic travel.
“While we welcome the news of a taskforce aimed at safely reopening travel between the UK and the US, unless we have a clear timeline and unlock transatlantic travel by 4 July at the latest, we will continue to see jobs lost and businesses go under,” she said.
“Nearly half of all adults in both countries are fully vaccinated and could travel seamlessly straight away, enabling airlines and the wider travel sector to recover quickly. Those not vaccinated should be allowed to travel with proof of a negative test.”
Steve Norris, managing director of Flight Centre EMEA, said talks between prime minister Boris Johnson and US president Joe Biden this week about reopening transatlantic travel could be “the lifeline the travel industry has been grasping for”.
“Resuming travel to the US will jump-start the travel industry in its hour of greatest need,” added Norris.
“The US has a strong vaccine record, with cases falling steadily over the past few months, so we’re excited that meaningful talks between the countries’ two leaders could get travel back on the books in a safe and secure manner.”
Drew Crawley, chief commercial officer at American Express Global Business Travel, added: “We welcome the UK and US governments’ shared commitment to reopening UK-US travel as soon as possible.
“Progress to date has been too slow. They must seize this moment to announce the implementation of consistent testing regimens with the mutual recognition of Covid health certificates in lieu of any quarantine restrictions.
“We must also hope that the formation of yet another travel taskforce finally produces rapid and meaningful results.
“Both the UK and US have made significant progress on their vaccination programmes and have similar R-rates, which raises several questions as to why travel remains heavily restricted. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”