The CEO of British Airways has called for the US to be placed on the UK’s green list of countries from which arrivals don’t have to self-isolate or quarantine.
It came as confusion reigned for a second day about whether Brits should be travelling to amber list countries for holidays or leisure even if they are no longer illegal
The US is currently on the amber list. It has one of the highest death tolls from the Covid-19 pandemic, but has also vaccinated the highest absolute number of citizens.
The BA boss told the BBC that it’s clear the US should be moved to the UK’s green list.
Sean Doyle expects travel restrictions to be eased for countries which are “vaccinating at pace”.
He said: “The US has vaccinated 59 per cent of all adults, and infections are falling, so we’d be very optimistic about the United States.
“And if we look at places like Germany and you look at France, again they’re making great progress, as is Europe.
“So we think Europe and the US certainly should be in scope for inclusion in the green list as we see the trends on vaccination and prevalence.”
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said France, Greece and Spain should also be added to the UK’s travel green list.
No longer illegal, but frowned upon
However health secretary Matt Hancockyesterday warned Brits of booking holidays to popular summer destinations Spain and France, which remain on the UK’s amber list.
Returnees from amber list destinations face increased testing and must self-isolate at home for 10 days.
Matt Hancock said people should “certainly not” go on holiday to nations such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece because of the threat of mutant strains of Covid-19.
“People should not travel to amber or red list countries unless it’s absolutely necessary, and certainly not for holiday purposes,” he told Times Radio.
Today George Eustice backed up Hancock when asked if people should “think twice” about going overseas.
Eustice said: “I think if you’re able to, that would be good just until we have more certainty about what’s happening with the variants, what’s happening in other European countries and other holiday destinations.”
But he also said visiting family or friends could be reason enough to travel abroad to amber list countries which include Spain and Greece, but also Mexico, South Korea and Egypt.
However the British Airways boss hit back at that point too, suggesting the amber list was “confusing” but the traffic light system was a design of the government’s own making and had not specified reasonable or unreasonable reasons for travel.
Official advice on travel to amber list countries is “not clear” he argued.
Doyle told the PA news agency: “The framework is there to deal with risk and I think if people comply with the framework, that’s ultimately achieving what it was designed to achieve.
“I think there are many reasons why people need to travel, and the advice is not clear in that regard.”
Gatwick boss confident of a growing list
Speaking on the day his airport could welcome back leisure travellers, Gatwick boss Steve Wingate said he expects more EU countries to be added to the green list by next month.
Speaking on the airport’s runway he said: “I think we have to be very alert to the variants of concern, I think we also need to be very mindful of the vaccination rates and the infection rates.
“The good news so far at least is that it seems to be the case that the vaccinations do the job against the Indian variant, so I’m actually encouraged by that.
“As we go forwards, as long as the vaccination programmes continue to accelerate and be rolled out across our big markets, for us that’s really Europe, and also the USA and Canada, then we should start to see hopefully more countries being added to the green list as early as the beginning of June.”
He added: “I think we have to be realistic that today is a cautious first opening up of international travel, but so long as the vaccination rollouts continue and the infection rates job, I think there should be better days ahead.
“Certainly when I look to Europe, we see little reason why for example the Greek islands and the Spanish islands shouldn’t already be on the green list, and we very much hope that some of the big markets such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece are put on the green list ahead of the busy summer period when schools are on holiday in the UK.”
Shares in BA owner IAG and Easyjet both regained ground on Tuesday after slumping at the start of the week on the same day travel from the UK reopened.
International travel is allowed once more for non-essential reasons such as holidays and visiting family and friends, however trip abroad still incur increased testing, costs and bureaucracy on both departure and return.