The airline CEOs are placing strain on governments to open up journeys to the US and the UK

A United Airlines passenger plane arrives over residential buildings to land at Heathrow Airport in west London, United Kingdom, on March 13, 2020.

Matthew Childs | Reuters

The CEOs of several major US and UK airlines on Tuesday increased pressure on their respective governments to revitalize air travel between the two countries and called for a summit to discuss the matter.

“Public health must guide the reopening of international air travel and we are confident that the aviation industry has the right tools, based on data and science, to enable a safe and meaningful restart of transatlantic travel,” it said the letter to US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his British counterpart Grant Shapps. “US and UK citizens would benefit from the extensive testing capabilities and successful trials of digital health data verification applications.”

The letter was signed by the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue Airways, who plan to start service between the US and the UK this summer, and the US industrial group Airlines for America.

Executives pointed out the surge in Covid vaccinations and the economic benefits of reopening travel. The US is currently banning most non-US citizens or permanent residents traveling from the UK, while US visitors are subject to a 10-day quarantine when entering the UK

“Just last week Secretary Buttigieg and the G7 Transport Ministers met to discuss the complexities of reopening international travel and how to proceed safely.” The US Department of Transportation said in a statement. “These discussions are ongoing. The department will review the letter with other agencies as part of the overall government approach to recovering from COVID.”

The UK Department of Transport did not comment immediately.

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