Business News: EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic call for reopening of airspace.
Most of Europe should be cleared for take-off based on the government’s planned relaxation of air travel restrictions, says EasyJet chief Johan Lundgren. His call not to delay the resumption of mass travel was echoed by Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss. He said there is now no reason for the government not to allow US services to return next month.
According to the UK roadmap off the bat, a list of allowed destinations is expected to be released soon. Lundgren told the BBC that “time is running out” and airlines need clarity.
Mr. Lundgren revealed a commissioned study from epidemiologists from Yale University’s school of public health who indicated that unrestricted travel to some of the most popular tourist destinations would increase hospital admissions by 4%.
He said research has suggested that much of Europe, including Spain, Portugal and Greece, should be classified as “green” under a government-proposed traffic light system to show which countries can be visited.
“On this basis EasyJet believes that much of Europe should be classified as green under the government. “This is because vaccination is a turning point: the successful launch of the vaccine in the UK has broken the link between cases and hospitalization and by May and June we expect the situation to improve progressively as vaccination rates.”
Also on Friday, Mr. Weiss asked for the United States to be placed on the green list. “With the world’s leading vaccination programs in both the UK and the US and evidence supporting safe reopening through testing, there is a clear opportunity to open travel and no reason to delay beyond May 17th.” Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive said.
That date is when the government says air travel restrictions could begin to be relaxed, although ministers said there is no guarantee that they will stick to that timetable. Like much of the aviation industry, both airlines cut thousands of jobs and took a huge blow to profits when global air travel was grounded. Mr Weiss made his comments in the United States when he revealed that the airline reported a loss of £ 659 million in 2020, with passenger numbers down 80%.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to chair a meeting of G7 transport ministers next week to discuss vaccine passports before announcing which countries will be open to the British.
Earlier this week, British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said he was confident the aviation industry will recover, pointing to comments from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said vaccinated US tourists would be welcome to Europe this summer. “Opening an air corridor is something that can be easily achieved if we have the will on both sides of the pond,” he said in an interview with Aviation Straight Talk.