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Airlines hope for quick decision on US-UK flights

British and US airlines on Monday said they were hoping for a quick decision to restart transatlantic flights, citing vaccination campaign successes and the need to maintain economic ties.Leaders of the G7 wealthiest nations, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, meet in Cornwall, southwest England, this weekend.At an online news conference, bosses at major airlines and London’s Heathrow airport said the high-profile meeting was the right moment to announce the restart of flights.”The borders have been shut down since March 2020,” said Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, referring to the start of the first coronavirus lockdown in Britain.”We’re asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Biden to lead the way and open the sky. They need to do that at the G7 summit.”Weiss’ counterpart at United Airlines, Scott Kirby, said if that happened, flight capacity could be well on the way back to normal levels by the end of the month,.”We could be back and add significant capacity in a four-week period. It’s the peak travel season. Every single day is a day lost for the recovery,” he told reporters.Airlines, which have taken a battering from the global health crisis due to a slump in passenger numbers and travel restrictions, insisted flying was safe.Weiss called for the United States to be put on the UK government’s so-called “green list” of countries where travellers do not need to quarantine on arrival or return.The United States is currently an “amber” country in its three-point traffic light system, which means travellers are recommended not to undertake journeys except for emergencies.Travellers returning to Britain have to quarantine for up to 10 days.British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle pointed out that transatlantic flights mainly catered for lucrative business travellers, alongside tourists.He said both countries have “low prevalence of infections and high vaccination rates”. Opening up would send a positive signal to the world, said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker.Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said there was “not only a political special relationship” between London and Washington but “an economic special relationship”.Johnson is due to meet Biden on Thursday before the start of the summit proper. But the UK prime minister’s spokesman refused to speculate on reports of a US-UK air corridor.”We obviously want to, whenever safe, open using our red-amber-green system to countries that are safe to travel to… and we’re obviously in touch with a number of countries as that work continues,” he told reporters.jbo/ved/phz/csp/tgbAmerican AirlinesIAG – INTERNATIONAL CONSOLIDATED AIRLINES GROUPUNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS

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