Let’s go, guys. The CEOs of all six major airlines* that fly the transatlantic skies between the United States and the United Kingdom joined Heathrow Airport, U.S. Travel Association, and other leading travel industry voices in calling for the re-opening of this corridor in trans-Atlantic travel.
- American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
Such a move is essential to igniting economic recovery on the popular route that joins the two nations. Before the pandemic, 5 million people traveled between the two countries each year.
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are set to meet in person this Thursday in Cornwall, England, ahead of Friday’s start to the G7 Summit.
The airlines carriers want the U.K. to place the U.S. on its “green list” of countries from which incoming travelers are not subject to a 10-day quarantine. They also are imploring the U.S. to end its ban on most incoming travel from the U.K., in place since March 2020.
U.S. Travel Association writes, “In the US, 63.5 percent of adults have received at least one dose, while about half of adults – nearly 139 million people – have been fully vaccinated. In the UK, almost 68 million have received shots – more than 75% of the country’s adult population.” (Editor note: Under-30s in the UK await eligibility for a vaccine.)
IATA is “optimistic” on recovery, forecasting that pre-crisis passenger numbers will be exceeded by 2023. According to the latest update from the International Air Transport Association, passenger levels will recover to 52% of pre-Covid numbers this year, reaching 88% n 2022. A warning was issued in late May as a wake-up call for governments to move quickly in adopting digital processes for the management of travel health credentials. From IATA’s press release:
“The impacts will be severe:
- Pre-COVID-19, passengers, on average, spent about 1.5 hours in travel processes for every journey (check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim).
- Current data indicates that airport processing times have ballooned to 3.0 hours during peak time with travel volumes at only about 30% of pre-COVID-19 levels. The greatest increases are at check-in and border control (emigration and immigration) where travel health credentials are being checked mainly as paper documents.
- Modeling suggests that, without process improvements, the time spent in airport processes could reach 5.5 hours per trip at 75% pre-COVID-19 traffic levels, and 8.0 hours per trip at 100% pre-COVID-19 traffic levels.”
Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said: “Without an automated solution for COVID-19 checks, we can see the potential for significant airport disruptions on the horizon. Already, average passenger processing and waiting times have doubled from what they were pre-crisis during peak time—reaching an unacceptable three hours. And that is with many airports deploying pre-crisis level staffing for a small fraction of pre-crisis volumes.
Nobody will tolerate waiting hours at check-in or for border formalities. We must automate the checking of vaccine and test certificates before traffic ramps up. The technical solutions exist. But governments must agree digital certificate standards and align processes to accept them. And they must act fast.”