UK to US flight corridor ‘should be available by May’ says Virgin Atlantic boss

A travel corridor allowing free travel between America and the UK should be in place by mid-May, according to Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.

"There is a great opportunity here to focus on the corridor between the US and the UK,” he said. “The US has a hugely successful vaccination program.

"Within the UK government’s traffic light framework, we have the opportunity to put the UK and US on a ‘green’ basis and get the economy moving again as of May 17."

Travel industry leaders across the UK agree.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of London Heathrow told Business Traveller that there should be no obstacle between the US and UK: “Even if the US was on the green list from the middle of May, in addition to vaccination, there would also be pre-departure testing for anyone who was travelling and that is a good belt and braces approach taken at this initial stage.”

He added that the US has a hugely successful vaccination programme almost rivalling the UK’s.

“We have seen over a 107 million citizens vaccinated there, and they are due to vaccinate 75 percent of their population by May,” he said. US President Biden announced earlier this week that all adults will be eligible for their first vaccine jab from April 19.

It’s over a year since Brits have been able to enter the US. With a very few exceptions UK citizens have been barred from entering the States since March 2020.

However most transatlantic airlines are now saying they plan to resume long-haul flights from next month.

Weiss has conceded that airlines will be reliant on the “US and UK governments to expedite the specific measures”.

He added: “The global success of our respective vaccination programs coupled with proportionate testing regimes means we can open these vital links between the UK’s largest trading partners and form the international basis for a post-pandemic movement of trade and goods ahead of the G7 in June.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the availability of Covid testing will be key to getting people travelling again: “Around 1 in 3 people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms, and as we re-open society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.

“The vaccine programme has been a 'shot in the arm' for the whole country,” the Health Secretary added, “but reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.”

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