Virgin Atlantic says it is “hopeful” it will be able to fly Brits to the US from September, reiterating that “thousands of travel jobs are still at risk” while borders remain closed.
The airline also says “£23 million of economic value has been restricted” and urged the British government to designate the US green on its traffic light system, and work with the Biden administration to remove the 212F order that currently prohibits Brits from travelling to America.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, vice president of global sales Lee Haslett said: “It’s essential that that transatlantic travel corridor is allowed to open.
“The government must follow its own advice and allow the US to open and it should be designated green or amber. The data proves that should be the case.”
Haslett said demand from Virgin’s US markets had spiked the minute restrictions allowing double-vaccinated US and EU nationals into the UK had been relaxed earlier this month.
“We are seeing very strong business from the US inbound to the UK,” he said. “We’ve had some phenomenal bookings follow in the UK allowing double-vaccinated passengers from the US in. We saw bookings jump more than 100% week on week.”
Bookings from New York JFK increased 250% following the August 2 announcement, compared to the previous week, he revealed.
“And then you also look at places like Atlanta, where bookings were 161% up; Los Angeles 63%; and Boston 88%,” Haslett pointed out. “And it’s all for August, September travel.
“There is such pent-up demand for people wanting to travel. And we know that, similarly, there’s a lot of Brits that want to get out to some of those famous destinations like Orlando or Las Vegas or New York.”
Haslett said Virgin Atlantic was poised to spring into action as soon as a transatlantic corridor is established.
“We’re ready,” he said. “We know our competitors are ready. And we know as a travel industry, we’re ready to run. Like a lot of people, we’re hopeful for September, but we don’t have a confirmed date so we are focused at the moment on where there are opportunities for us to fly.
“But we do need those restrictions to be lifted. Absolutely. We all do. And I think now is the time. Hopefully, as we head into September, that we will start to see that.”