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Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian Pours Cold Water on New York to London ‘Air Corridor’

Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian Pours Cold Water on New York to London ‘Air Corridor’

There have been rumours of a New York to London ‘air corridor’ opening for months, allowing passengers on both sides of the Atlantic to travel between the United States and Europe with few restrictions and no need to quarantine. At the very least, there have been talks between the US and UK governments on the matter, although after nearly six months little progress has been made and there’s still no sign that the travel corridor will ever get going.

Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian, has cast doubt on the very feasibility of a New York to London travel corridor, suggesting airlines like American Airlines, British Airways and United, who have been pushing hard to get the corridor up and running are likely wasting their time.

“I think New York-London is complicated,” Bastian diplomatically commented in an interview with the Financial Times on Sunday. “I think you will find on the continent several countries that are more open,” Bastian continued, referencing governments that are using COVID-19 testing on arrival to reopen travel.

Bastian is broadly supportive of COVID-19 testing as a means to get travel safely restarted, telling the newspaper that testing would give governments the confidence to lift quarantine restrictions.

Travellers from the United States arriving in London have been required to self-isolate for 14-days since the start of June. Most British citizens are currently banned from entering the United States but travellers who are allowed to travel from London to New York, including US citizens, are also currently required to quarantine for a fortnight.

Over the next few weeks, American Airlines and British Airways will run a joint COVID-19 trial on a small number of transatlantic flights to gather data on the effectiveness of testing both pre-departure and after arrival. The two airlines hope to use the results to prove that borders can be safely reopened and onerous self-isolation rules lifted through the use of testing.

United Airlines is also trialling a pre-departure testing concept on flights between Newark and London Heathrow in another attempt to get travel restrictions eased. The trial does not exempt passengers from following the current quarantine rules.

While Bastian expects the demand for travel to remain “subdued” into the New Year at the earliest, he struck a more optimistic tone on whether crucial business travellers would return. Bastian dismissed predictions from Microsoft founder Bill Gates that business travel will shrink by half, saying: “Bill Gates is not a road warrior . . . he’s not the person to be forecasting that.”

“I think business travel’s going to be strong on the way back,” Bastian continued, although the ‘when’ remains unclear.

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