14 JUNE 2021


© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.

Article from BTNews 14 JUNE 2021

COMMENT: Where do we go from here?

Where on ‘earth’ do we stand regarding international travel?  “Always look on the bright side,” says Business Travel News.

As this COMMENT is penned (late Sunday 13 June) the travel industry in all its guises does not know where it stands.  Apathy seems to loom.  It is listless.  No one seems to know the immediate future.  Yes there are bright skies somewhere in the future, but where is that future?  (See also Walsh slams ‘Atlantic Charter’ in this week's BTN).

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden drew a parallel last week with their distinguished predecessors’ meeting in 1941.  It was gloom then.  It is the same today.  The difference is that Churchill and Roosevelt demanded action, and got it!  

Their 2021 inheritors in a joint statement said that “cooperation between the UK and US, the closest of partners and the greatest of allies, will be crucial for the future of the world’s stability and prosperity.”  We all agree. Crucially, no firm dates for a restart were mentioned; only a plan to “work to relaunch UK-US travel as soon as possible”.  

It is easy to criticise government.  Some are intent on scoring pollical points without being constructive.  Bold and correct decisions have been made, but also plenty of mistakes.

But uncertainty is the biggest failure.

We want to know what happens on 21 June now, and not from unsubstantiated leaks by mysterious third parties said to be a source.  To confuse matters further the date of 28 June has also been mentioned regarding travel for fully vaccinated UK residents.

The CEOs of all airlines that offer UK-US passenger services – American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have joined with Heathrow Airport and other industry-leading CEOs in calling for the re-opening of transatlantic travel, a move that will be essential to igniting economic recovery.  

Luis Gallego, Chief Executive, IAG, made the point:  “We’ve had taskforces before; what we need now is to open the corridor as soon as possible.”

From the other side of the Atlantic the words are essentially the same.

Drew Crawley, Chief Commercial Officer, American Express Global Business Travel, said that progress on reopening transatlantic travel had been too slow.

“We must hope that the formation of yet another travel taskforce finally produces rapid and meaningful results," he said.

“US-UK travel routes are among the most profitable in the world, pumping billions into both the American and British economies while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs on each side of the Atlantic. The continued closure of these vital routes for more than 400 days has been detrimental to economic recovery in both countries, contributing to lost job hours and hindering innovation and solutions to our shared challenges."  

Stobart Air has now collapsed and, early last year, Flybe.  Nothing to do with the pandemic you might say.  But without Covid-19 would they still be around today in some form?

JetBlue is still intent on starting transatlantic services in August.  A smattering of new airlines has arrived at Heathrow. The winter schedules are up. International travel is still alive.  Just.  

Always look on the bright side!

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Paul Kay, London, UK

..."Her Majesty Queen Victoria also...'Too'...is looking a bit bleak after 120 years...Bless Her"!..

Jeff Jones, Brighton

So it is the 28 June for an update on international travel and I suppose the numbers on cruise ships. I was at Southampton at the weekend. Queen Mary 2 looked bleak!