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EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic call for reopening of the sky

Beach in Spain March 2021

Most of Europe should be cleared for takeoff as part of the government’s planned easing of air travel restrictions, EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said.

His call not to delay the resumption of mass travel was echoed by Virgin Atlantic boss Shai Weiss.

He said there was now no reason for the government not to allow U.S. services to return next month.

As part of the UK’s non-lockdown roadmap, a list of permitted destinations is expected to be released shortly.

Mr Lundgren told the BBC that “the clock is ticking” and airlines need clarity.

And in a Friday speech, he cited research that suggests mass travel to many popular vacation destinations would have limited Covid risks.

Mr Lundgren revealed a study commissioned from epidemiologists at Yale University’s School of Public Health that found unrestricted travel to some of the most popular vacation destinations would increase hospital admissions by 4% .

He said the research suggested that much of Europe, including Spain, Portugal and Greece, should be classified as “green” under a system of traffic lights proposed by the government to show which countries can be visited.

“EasyJet believes that a green country should be a country where unrestricted travel poses no risk to the NHS or to the success of the vaccination program,” said Mr Lundgren.

“On this basis, EasyJet believes that a large part of Europe should be classified as green within the framework of the government.

“This is because vaccination is a game changer – the successful rollout of the vaccine in the UK has severed the link between cases and hospitalization and by May and June we expect the situation to be s ‘gradually improving due to vaccination rates. “

EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic call for reopening of the sky

Gatwick to Glasgow flights

The government is expected to use a traffic light system to rank countries with high vaccination rates and other data, indicating which ones are suitable for travel.

Mr Lundgren said the government “urgently needs” to publish this and most of Europe should be given the “green” light.

“While the rest of the economy emerges from this lockdown with some precautions in place, there is no reason the same should not be possible with travel.”

Also on Friday, Weiss called for the United States to be placed on the green list. “With leading vaccination programs in the UK and US and evidence to support a safe reopening through testing, there is a clear opportunity to open up travel and no reason to delay at- beyond May 17, “said the general manager of Virgin Atlantic.

It was on that date that the government said restrictions on air travel could begin to be relaxed, although ministers said there was no guarantee of meeting that timetable.

Like much of the aviation industry, the two airlines cut thousands of jobs and faced a huge blow to profits due to the blockage of global air transport.

Mr Weiss made his American comments revealing that the airline suffered a loss of £ 659million in 2020 as passenger numbers fell by 80%.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due 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 expressed confidence in the recovery of the aviation industry, highlighting comments from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that tourists vaccinated Americans would be welcome in Europe this summer.

“Opening up 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.

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