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UK Airline Industry Calls for Reopening to Vaccinated US Travelers

Date: July 27, 2021

By Donald Wood, Travel Pulse

Airlines in the United Kingdom and officials from London’s Heathrow Airport are advocating for the reopening of non-essential travel for vaccinated tourists from the United States.

According to Reuters.com, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said the U.K. could exempt fully vaccinated U.S. citizens from quarantine in the coming days, a move that would boost the nation’s economy and avoid further job losses.

Even as portions of Europe have reopened, the U.K. travel sector continues to be plagued by uncertainty as strict COVID-related rules remain in place and are altered with little notice. The country's aviation industry hopes reopening to Americans would provide a much-needed spark.

Industry group Airlines UK—which represents British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and other carriers—is warning the government of further job losses if international travel wasn’t reopened soon.

“Without the passenger planes going to global markets like the U.S., UK exports aren't getting out of the country, and the UK will fall behind and that will cost jobs, unless we open up,” Holland-Kaye told Reuters.

Officials from Airlines UK are also advocating for all quarantine restrictions to be lifted for fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. and the European Union. Holland-Kaye believes the reopening of travel “could happen this week.”

The Heathrow CEO said the UK’s travel restrictions were suppressing trade volumes and traveler demand, resulting in losses of around $4 billion during the coronavirus pandemic.

Holland-Kaye said passenger levels were about 20-25 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Earlier this week, an unnamed White House official reported that the U.S. would not lift any existing travel restrictions in the foreseeable future due to concerns regarding the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.

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