There is a 50:50 chance that a travel corridor between London and New York could be set up before Thanksgiving, Heathrow Airport’s chief executive said today.
John Holland-Kaye said that preparations for a trial testing scheme to enable business travel were advancing rapidly.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, he said that the national holiday, which falls on 26 November, was a “good target” to aim for.
“I know that there is a big appetite on both the US and UK side and I think there is a preference in America for the UK to be the first country to do this with”, he said.
“It would be great for the UK to be first out of the block and whatever is agreed could quickly become the international standard.
“We are talking to all the transatlantic airlines to make sure they are all aligned. There is certainly work to do to get it up and running in time for Thanksgiving but it is doable. I would say the chances are 50-50 but those are better odds than most things happening in the world right now.”
The transatlantic aviation market is one of the most lucrative in the world and is central to carriers such as British Airways which thrive on business travel.
Since 14 March all but a tiny minority of people have been banned from entering the US due to the coronavirus after an executive decree from President Donald Trump.
Holland-Kaye said that the plan would involve passengers testing 72 hours before flying, and then again prior to boarding.
His words come after the first pre-departure testing centre was opened at Heathrow earlier this week, offering results within the hour.
At the moment, the facility, which is run by Swissport and Collinson, offers tests to those travelling to Italy and Hong Kong for £80.