There were repeated calls in the UK this week for the US to lift the travel ban that has been in place since March 2020. But when JetBlue launched its new London / New York service, there were signs of increased confidence, despite airlines believing that the travel ban will not be lifted until September and possibly as late as November.
Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the UK, and before the pandemic it was the busiest in Europe, but it has called on the government to do more to increase travel – in July it said 1.5 million people passed through its terminals, which is well below pre-pandemic levels. As reported by new, it has called for PCR tests to be replaced by lateral flow tests (which are much cheaper and faster) and for the UK Government to push harder for the US to open its borders and retaliate by lifting its travel ban.
A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said this week, “with fully vaccinated US visitors now able to travel to the UK without the need for quarantine, the joint UK / US travel task force must take advantage of the UK’s world-leading vaccine rollout and reach a mutual agreement for fully vaccinated British travelers. ”
However, there are signs that confidence is rising. Passengers traveling from North America rose 230% during July, with the most popular route being New York’s JFK Airport — as it was before the pandemic. In addition, several Americans have been able to travel to the UK since August 2, provided they are fully vaccinated (they can still travel if not, but must enter a ten-day quarantine upon arrival).
In addition, JetBlue went ahead with the planned opening of a NY / London route, despite the pandemic. The first transatlantic flight left JFK on Wednesday night, and it plans to launch a Gatwick route on September 29, as reported by BBC. Prices for a ticket started at $ 941 (£ 679) one way, slightly cheaper than British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, both of which indicated $ 980 a ticket for the same period. JetBlue has completely redesigned its aircraft for international travel, rather than using its existing aircraft.
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Addition in other airlines now means there are 28 possible flights a day between London and New York.
The US / UK travel industry is lucrative. As reported by The independent, nearly 4 million travelers took the journey from the UK to the US in 2019 (figures from the UK Foreign Office), while 4.5 million trips were made in the opposite direction (VisitBritain figures). Before Covid-19, it was the London / New York route that transported the most people — almost 3 million annually.
Virgin Atlantic’s vice president of global sales, Lee Haslett said Travels weekly that the company and its competitors were ready to fly, and it hoped for a launch date in September – “Like many others, we hope for September, but we do not have a confirmed date, so we are currently focused on where there are opportunities for us to fly. ”
That’s what JetBlue said The independent It believes flights may be possible from November. Its CEO told BBC that “we are hopeful over the next two or three months, when we get to the right side of the increases in the Delta variant we have seen, we can visit it again and we can welcome Britons and Europeans to the states again.”
Currently, anyone who is a non-US citizen / resident / visa / ESTA waiver holder and who has spent time in either the UK, Ireland, the Schengen area, Iran, Brazil, China and South Africa in the last 14 days cannot enter in the United States (there are some exceptions for close family members of U.S. citizens).