There are growing hopes of a reopening of travel across Europe and to the US by the end of next month following a muted restart this month.
The European Commission has recommended easing restrictions on travel for fully-vaccinated overseas visitors, including from the US.
A leading industry source described the EU move as “useful”, saying: “It adds to the pressure on the UK government. The UK should be ahead of the EU given the vaccination programme.”
The source added: “We’re seeing increasing alignment globally for June.”
Industry leaders wrote to US president Joe Biden and British prime minister Boris Johnson urging they use a meeting ahead of the G7 Summit in early June as “an ideal opportunity for a joint announcement of the reopening of US-UK air travel”.
The source noted a US reopening “is in US hands. We don’t have the US on the red list. It’s up to the Biden administration.”
The US would need to repeal Section 212F of the US Immigration and Nationality Act invoked by former president Donald Trump to suspend entry from the UK, Ireland and Schengen Area.
A key issue remains how the government will handle transit passengers, which could affect arrivals from the US, the Gulf and major hub airports across Europe.
The source noted: “A lot of traffic to the UK will transit through hub airports. [But] there is nothing in the Global Travel Taskforce report on transit passengers. The framework does not make allowance for transit passengers. It’s the single biggest area of uncertainty.”
Dale Keller, chief executive of the UK Board of Airline Representatives, said: “We’ve asked for urgent clarification of transit passenger policy, including from red countries. The government allows transit through the UK but not through other hubs. That urgently needs reviewing.”
The EC proposes to accept visitors fully vaccinated with an EU‑approved vaccine administered at least two weeks before travel.