The boss of The Travel Corporation (TTC) believes the UK and US will confirm flights will resume between the two countries from early July.
Brett Tollman, chief executive of the 40-brand company, said he expects its Uniworld river cruise line to start sailing in France with British and American passengers on three ships on the same date.
The UK-US resumption would include several airports across both countries and would not be limited to New York and London, predicted Tollman, who added he hoped it would “come to pass”.
Tollman’s views on the resumption echo those made last week by the head of European air traffic management organisation Eurocontrol, Eamonn Brennan.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Tollman said: “I did hear some great news from some industry colleagues who work with a number of organisations who believe with President Biden coming over on the fourth of June, that sometime during the month of June, there will be a co-announcement between the US and UK governments of the bridge opening between the US and the UK . ”
Biden is scheduled to make the UK his first foreign visit when he attends the G7 summit in Cornwall next month.
Tollman added that he understood major airlines – including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and United Airlines – were adding capacity ahead of the mooted corridor announcement.
Gavin Tollman, chief executive of TTC brand and touring specialist Trafalgar, added that popular search terms on Trafalgar’s website suggested that “everybody” wanted to go to the US.
“I hope Brett is 100% right on everything he’s heard,” he said. “Because if that does happen, and we do open between the United Kingdom and the United States, we will have not just have a good 2022 but I believe an excellent third quarter of 2021 and into the fourth quarter too.”
On Trafalgar’s booking levels, he said: “The issue is not whether or not people want to travel, it is the desire for certainty, to enable them to move from the desire to making the booking.”
He added that the low consumer confidence about whether to travel or not was one of the “biggest burdens” the company had faced and that “certainty” translated directly into bookings.
“Until you get that greater degree of certainty, consumers will engage, but they won’t book,” he said, citing caution around the UK’s green list announcement.
“We had the great announcement…telling us that we were about to open up – we kind of threw a party,” he said. “But no one came because what was missing from that [announcement] was the certainty of where you can go, where were the flights, how are you going to go, what was going to occur in the country.”
He added that in the US, where there was a greater degree of customer confidence, Trafalgar bookings were rising between 20% to 30% each week.
In a direct message to agents, he said: “I believe all of our travel agent partners should expect to see our business grow exponentially here [in the UK] in the weeks ahead.”
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