A UK-US corridor will lead the way in re-opening travel between Europe and North America with a restart as soon as June or July, the head of European air traffic management organisation Eurocontrol has forecast.
Eamonn Brennan, Eurocontrol director general, suggested traffic from the UK to the US “will probably resume in June”.
He forecast the US would be added to the UK’s green list of destinations next month, but said the move “might not be immediately reciprocated” by Washington.
Brennan said the rest of Europe “might lag a little” behind the UK.
Speaking on a CAPA Centre for Aviation online summit, Brennan argued: “The US and UK have a similar vaccination level so a corridor will most certainly open between the US and UK.
“I see that being the first one in Europe toward the end of June or July. You might see the UK place the US on the green list and it not be immediately reciprocated by the US. It might take a little time.”
But he argued: “Long haul traffic to the US will probably resume with the UK in June. The rest of Europe might lag a little behind.”
Brennan suggested vaccination rates would “be the driving factor” of the restart across Europe and said: “North America is running about six months ahead of Europe [in vaccination rates], excluding the UK.”
He reported domestic traffic in the US is now only about 30% down on 2019 levels.
A leading aviation analyst addressing the same summit suggested a UK restart to the US is just “weeks away”.
Daniel Roeska, managing director and senior analyst at Bernstein Research, said: “The US is a matter of weeks rather than months away. We’re expecting a strong recovery into the US.”
Brennan gave a more downbeat assessment of the wider prospects for a resumption of long-haul traffic to and from Europe.
He said: “For China and the rest of Asia we’re looking at November [for a restart]. With Australia, there will be nothing until the end of the year if that.”
Brennan noted domestic traffic in China is now 10% up on 2019, but said: “International traffic out of China has flat-lined for a considerable time. It is dead.”