By Benjamin Pham
British Airways CEO Urges Push For Reopening U.K. Border
Europe is the classic travel hotspot for tourists, and every summer, transatlantic flights are tremendously busy. This summer is no different as the continent is a main focus of the airline industry because popular hotspots such as France and Spain, among several other countries, reopened their borders for vaccinated travelers.
However, the United Kingdom is not one of the countries that have reopened its borders for tourists to enter, and, in response, British Airways’ CEO, Sean Doyle, met with leaders of U.S. carriers and London’s Heathrow Airport to safely and swiftly reopen travel between the U.S. and the U.K. soon to accommodate the summer travel surge.
The ongoing rollout of vaccinations and encouragement for the public to become vaccinated prompted a sense of motivation to eventually resume flights between the U.K. and the U.S. Prior to the upcoming G7 summit, Doyle spoke with leaders from Delta, United, American, jetBlue and Virgin Atlantic who fly between both nations, regarding the impact of lifting travel bans on the global economy and trade, tourism and arrival requirements.
“As President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet this week, they must address the transatlantic ban that is separating our two low-risk countries at a major cost to our citizens and economies. We urgently need them to look to the science and base their judgments on proper risk analysis, allowing us all to benefit from the protection offered by our successful vaccine rollouts,” Sean Doyle, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said.
“In the UK this means making the traffic light system fit for purpose, including a pathway to restriction-free travel for vaccinated travelers, and getting rid of complexity surrounding ‘amber list’ countries, eliminating quarantine and reducing the number of tests passengers are required to take,” Doyle continued.
The panel’s discussion included a request for the UK to eliminate the necessity for travelers returning from countries that have low-risk status or are “green list.” Meanwhile, from the U.S. side, the leader called for the U.S. government to revise its entry criteria to allow UK travelers to enter with a negative test or have received the necessary vaccinations.
In the meantime, while British Airways eagerly awaits the loosened entry requirements and anticipates the border to reopen sooner rather than later, the airline recently expanded its Covid-19 testing availability. Passengers have access to more opportunities through the airline’s new partnership with Wren Healthcare, which joins a list of several other healthcare providers offering to test the airline’s passengers. Before traveling, passengers will complete the Covid-19 PCR test with assistance from a specialist from Wren, and results will be available within 24 hours after completion.
Tom Stevens, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said, “We are committed to exploring ways to make sure that our customers have access to affordable tests that suit their needs. We know that sourcing and sending PCR tests away shortly before travel can make people anxious,” an initiative unveiled while the airline waits for transatlantic flights to resume and continues to focus on its existing flight schedule, assuring passengers are prepared to return to air travel.
The transatlantic air travel corridor has some of the most competitive routes, especially from the east coast to the U.K. with multiple carriers offering services from the U.S. Clearly, British Airways is hopeful for transatlantic travel to restart. As soon as the borders between the U.S. and the U.K. reopen, the airline will have the opportunity to resume its most lucrative routes in its network to allow the U.K. to join the list of European nations reopening its borders to international travelers and easing travel entry restrictions.