Airlines are lobbying the government to relax restrictions on travel to and from the US to reopen key transatlantic routes, according to reports.

The US was excluded from ‘safe’ destinations lists issued by the Department for Transport and Foreign Office this week due to high infection rates.

But The Sunday Times reported that airlines led by Virgin Atlantic were lobbying to allow the crucial Heathrow-JFK route to reopen.

The paper said that airlines were calling for a testing system to be introduced to allow arrivals in the UK to be exempt from quarantine if they test negative. Those arriving in the UK from the US are currently required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Virgin Atlantic is currently battling to secure a rescue package, with The Times saying a deal was expected in around 10 days’ time. However, sources said a deal was being complicated by a lack of clarity over the status of the airline’s Heathrow landing slots.