‘It’s essential that that transatlantic travel corridor is allowed to open,’ says airline
Virgin Atlantic is “hopeful” that travel from the UK to the US will be able to restart from September, after a hiatus of 18 months.
“We’re ready,” the airline’s vice president of global sales, Lee Haslett, told Travel Weekly. “We know our competitors are ready. And we know as a travel industry, we’re ready to run.
“Like a lot of people, we’re hopeful for September, but we don’t have a confirmed date so we are focused at the moment on where there are opportunities for us to fly.”
The carrier reported a bookings spike of 100 per cent week-on-week after the British government’s announcement that travellers fully vaccinated in the US would be able to enter the UK without quarantining.
“We are seeing very strong business from the US inbound to the UK,” said Mr Haslett, adding that bookings from New York JFK had jumped 250 per cent following the Department for Transport’s announcement on 2 August.
However, there is currently no reciprocal agreement in place – the US has been off limits to Brits since March 2020, regardless of vaccination status, with no clear indication of when the travel ban might lift.
“It’s essential that that transatlantic travel corridor is allowed to open,” said Mr Haslett.
“We need those restrictions to be lifted. And I think now is the time.
“Hopefully, as we head into September, that we will start to see that.”
Other airlines have been more cautious in their predictions for the transatlantic restart.
JetBlue’s chief executive Robin Hayes told BBC Today this week: “We are hopeful over the next two or three months, as we get on the right side of the Delta variant increases we have seen, we can revisit that and we can welcome Brits and Europeans to the States again.”
Two further months of the travel ban would extend to the second week of October, while a three-month continuation would take the ban until November.
Despite the prohibition, and the consequent collapse in transatlantic air travel, the New York-based airline launched a new route from JFK airport to London Heathrow on Wednesday 11 August.