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Aviation, travel groups urge fully reopening U.S.-UK travel market

David Shepardson
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Travellers at Heathrow Airport

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A coalition of U.S. and European travel, airline, union, business and airport groups on Monday called for fully reopening the U.S.-UK air travel market "as soon as safely possible."

In a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the groups said the leaders' planned meeting in early June "would be an ideal opportunity for a joint announcement of the full reopening of the U.S.-UK air travel market for both U.S. and UK citizens."

The United States since March 2020 has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in the UK from the United States.

"The return of Transatlantic flying would not only have a significantly positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year," said the letter, signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Airlines for America, Global Business Travel Association, Air Line Pilots Association, Virgin Atlantic, Association of UK Airlines, Aerospace Industries Association and others.

"Safely reopening borders between the U.S. and UK is essential for both countries’ economic recovery from COVID-19."

On Monday, the European Union's executive recommended easing COVID-19 travel restrictions next month to let foreign travelers from more countries enter the EU, hoping to boost the stricken tourism industry this summer.

One question remains whether the U.S. government will participate in helping Americans establish to foreign governments that they have been fully vaccinated in order to travel.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said "there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential."

India, Brazil, China, Iran, South Africa, Ireland and 26 other countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders are also covered by the severe travel restrictions that prevent most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States if they have been within one of those countries within the last 14 days.

In January, Biden reversed a decision made by President Donald Trump to rescind the entry bans on the UK and other European countries.

Nearly all of Europe still bans most U.S. travelers from visiting, while Britain allows American visits but requires a 10-day quarantine upon arrival and two COVID-19 tests.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)