A commitment to opening up a safe, UK-US travel corridor – based on vaccination and testing – at the G7 summit this week would kick-start the transatlantic economy and serve as a "template" for the rest of the world.
That was the message from travel and aviation leaders on both sides of the pond, who came together on Monday (7 June) to call on Boris Johnson and Joe Biden to come to an agreement on reopening travel between the UK and the US this summer.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said time was now of the essence, with the UK government committed to further easing its Covid restrictions from 21 June and the US looking to do the same by 4 July.
"We’re at a critical moment," he said. "This is the point [at which] they should be showing the benefits of the vaccination programmes they have led. That’s what reopening the transatlantic corridor would do. And if not now, then when?"
United Airlines chief executive, Scott Kirby, said a UK-US travel corridor would serve as a template for the rest of the world, and stressed carriers could step up capacity within four weeks to capitalise on the peak UK-US travel season. "Every day that goes by is a day lost for the recovery," he said.
Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the US Travel Association, said that the G7 summit – which will be held in Cornwall over 11-13 June – would be a "prime opportunity" for the UK and US to set an example. "I think the rest of the world will follow," he said. "But we need a date to shoot for or we’ll keep kicking this can down the road."
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said it was time for the UK to capitalise on the vaccine dividend it has earned or risk being left behind as the rest of the world opens up. "The G7 is the opportunity," he said, adding a decision should be made no later than 4 July.