Flying between London and New York with a shorter quarantine may be possible by December
- US officials have revived talks about creating an "air corridor" between New York City and London, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
- This would allow passengers on the popular route to avoid the usual 14-day quarantine.
- The new system could even be running in time for Thanksgiving, on November 26, the Journal reported.
- A Homeland Security official told the Wall Street Journal that work to "safely encourage trans-Atlantic travel while mitigating public health risks" remained in its early stages.
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Officials in the US and UK have reportedly revived discussions about forming an "air corridor" between London and New York before the end of November, allowing passengers to travel between the cities with a shortened quarantine period.
The Wall Street Journal reported that passengers on the route, which is popular for both business and tourist trips, would be tested for COVID-19 both before flying and upon arrival, allowing them to avoid the usual 14-day quarantine.
They would still have to quarantine, but for less time. Transportation officials and an airline trade group want the period to be reduced to 24 hours, sources told the Journal, but other officials want to maintain a quarantine period of between four and seven days.
Officials haven't yet decided who would pay for testing, the paper reported.
Currently, travellers from the UK are only allowed to enter the US if they are US citizens or permanent residents. Meanwhile, travelers from the US must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the UK, and are unable to travel onwards to most European countries.
The average duration of a US visitor's trip to the UK is seven days, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, the UK's largest airport, said in September. As a result, current quarantine rules "effectively lock these high-spending visitors out of the UK," he said.
He said later in September that he hoped flights would be "up and running" by Thanksgiving, November 26, adding that he thought it was "entirely feasible."
The US is also holding talks with German officials about possible air corridors, the Wall Street Journal said.
However, a Homeland Security official told the Journal that work to "safely encourage trans-Atlantic travel while mitigating public health risks" remained in its early stages.
In September, business leaders urged the British government to create an air bridge between the US and the UK because of fears that the lack of trans-Atlantic travel was preventing business deals.
The UK aviation industry also appealed to the government to reopen the travel corridor between the two countries, arguing that the lack of tourists is impacting "thousands of jobs" in the restaurant, hospitality, and retail sectors.
The collapse of air travel between the UK and the US in 2020 will cost about £11 billion (R240 billion), Airlines UK estimated in September, with a £3.5 billion (R76 billion) loss from a lack of US tourists and business travellers alone.
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