Virgin Atlantic says ticket sales have surged by more than 100 per cent and bookings on the flagship New York City – London route had increased by around 250 per cent in the hours after England said it would allow fully vaccinated American and European travellers to enter the country without needing to quarantine. Both Scotland and Wales also confirmed they would fall in line with the policy decision.
“Following confirmation that isolation and quarantine for fully vaccinated EU and US citizens arriving into the UK will be removed from 2 August, Virgin Atlantic has seen a significant uptick in interest in travel from the US to the UK,” a spokesperson for the airline said on Thursday.
JetBlue, which is due to start its first-ever transatlantic flights to London next month, said sales had doubled following the announcement although confirmation of the rule change only came after jetBlue had slashed its London flight schedule for August.
The decision to pare back its planned daily service to just four times per week came after the White House announced it had no intention of easing its own travel ban on non-American citizens who have spent the last 14-days in the UK.
Both the CDC and US State Department advise Americans not to travel to the UK citing COVID-19 fears.
The fact that only Americans will be able to take advantage of a newly reopened UK on transatlantic flights hasn’t, however, deterred United Airlines who almost immediately announced plans to operate as many as 40 weekly flights between the United States and the UK.
The beefed-up schedule will include double daily service from Washington DC and an increase from Houston to daily service.
American passengers will need to have been fully vaccinated in the United States with an FDA approved vaccine to take advantage of the quarantine exemption. Travellers will still need to take a pre-departure test, as well as a post-arrival test within two days and also complete a passenger locator form.
European travellers will need to have received an EMA approved vaccine. On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that this excluded a small number of people who had received Chinese or Russian made vaccines.
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are likely to increase their own schedules to the United States in the coming days but Virgin boss Shai Weiss urged the government to go even further by moving the US to the Green List.
“The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake.”
A note of caution was also shared by the BALPA pilots union who fear the news has come too late in the summer to save tens of thousands of jobs in the aviation sector.
“We are halfway through the only profitable part of the year – summer – and UK travellers still face huge restrictions in the countries that will allow us in, preventing a real recovery,” said acting BALPA secretary Brian Strutton.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that 57 per cent of airline workers remain on furlough because travel restrictions have prevented the sector from recovering.
Photo Credit: Dux Croatorum / Shutterstock.com
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.