No announcement on the US-UK travel corridor is imminent, the foreign secretary has said.
US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the possibility of opening US-UK travel again at a G7 meeting on Thursday.
Yesterday, it was announced that a new transatlantic travel taskforce had been set up to explore ways to reopen UK-US travel.
“It was something that was discussed yesterday and we’ve got an idea about how to take it forward, but it’s not something we’ll be announcing imminently,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky news on Friday.
Travel between the two nations has been frozen since March 2020, thanks to a series of presidential proclamations, while the US is on the UK’s amber list of countries, requiring a 10-day quarantine.
After Biden arrived in the UK for the G7 meeting in St Ives, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted: “We’re pleased to announce a joint UK/US Taskforce to help facilitate the reopening of transatlantic travel.”
The group will explore options for resuming flights at scale on what was once the busiest and most lucrative intercontinental route network in the world.
Pressure has long been piled on the two nations to restart travel between the two countries. The new taskforce was greeted tentatively by the travel industry.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, representing leading British carriers, said: “It’s positive news but time is really ticking and every day that we don’t have an air bridge with the US costs us £32m in lost economic activity.
“It’s our most important trading and tourism link by far and we would urge a redoubling of efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to get an agreement in place.”
Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, Shai Weiss, said: “The creation of the Atlantic Taskforce is positive recognition of the importance of the UK-US travel corridor and a first step towards reopening the skies. But in the absence of a definitive time frame, again falls short of providing airlines, businesses and consumers with much needed certainty.”