26 APRIL 2021
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At a webinar last Tuesday, jointly organised by Airlines UK with ConservativeHome, secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps and new British Airways CEO Sean Doyle showed good chemistry between them as they discussed 'Back to Business – reopening international travel'.
They were joined by Keith Glatz, VP international affairs, Airlines for America, the US equivalent of Airlines UK, and David Evans, Group CEO, Collinson Group, the London-based international aviation services company, who have been at the forefront of Covid-19 protection around the globe.
The transport secretary said he hoped that in the future families would be allowed to use rapid 'lateral flow' tests before boarding a flight. He said when international travel initially returns, only the more expensive – but more accurate – PCR tests are likely to be accepted. But he said he was looking at ways to reduce the cost of such tests to make them more affordable to families desperate for a getaway.
"I want to see a properly competitive market, driving down the costs of these tests."
A family of four face costs of as much as £600 for at least two tests each way, even for a holiday in a "low risk" destination.
Sean Doyle noted that British Airways is well placed to lead a European travel recovery from the pandemic if relatively swift vaccine rollouts in Britain and the United States would mean resurrecting transatlantic routes. “There's an immediate opportunity to open up the US," he said. “With the two countries more or less mirroring each other" on vaccination, adding, "that should lead to the UK and the US being able to lead the way in terms of opening up."
He added that transatlantic re-opening would play to the network strengths of British Airways and parent group IAG. "The breadth and depth of the network we have provided historically has been a competitive advantage for us."
David Evans noted that Collison had provided testing facilities at most of the major UK airports, whilst speaking from the US Keith Glatz made it clear that Airlines for America was doing all that it could to alter the rules at the gateway airports.
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