Virgin Atlantic has repeated its call for a UK-New York travel corridor, as the carrier’s operations chief told TTG he believed the British government “is listening” to industry pleas on airport testing.
Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer, told TTG the airline thought “a travel corridor to between New York and the UK is feasible” and that pressure was building on government to introduce testing as a means to cut down quarantine time for passengers from certain countries.
Koster said Virgin had been lobbying “lots of MPs” on the issue and had been hearing “a growing voice” within Westminster for the introduction of testing.
“We think there is an ear listening and we hope that ear will get to action soon because we can’t really waste months on this,” he said.
“Our industry was the first impacted by Covid and it will be one of the last to recover. We believe testing is absolutely essential and so is the opening of further travel corridors when safe to do so, getting people moving and the UK government should give further support to the aviation industry as a whole.
“Furlough has been tremendously important to aviation and so many other sectors in the UK but we would like to hope that sector-specific support will be considered.”
Koster said that among Virgin’s hopes of help from government was the implementation of regional travel corridors – with a prime choice being a link between the UK and New York’s JFK.
“If you look at somewhere like New York [that] has lower Covid ratios – could we open a travel corridor between the UK and New York – it’s something we’re lobbying both countries’ government’s on because it will be a while before travel can be completely unrestricted and free and in the meantime we strongly believe there is a need to get travel going.
“We normally operate seven flights a day to New York JFK and we’re now at one a day, so clearly that [route] is so important. It’s only essential travel [to the US] so it’s extremely restricted as to who can enter or who can enter the UK without quarantine.
“Getting a travel corridor between New York and the UK would be very important to Virgin Atlantic but also other transatlantic players.”