Reports are circulating about a potential ‘air bridge’ between New York and London, giving eager travelers a glimmer of hope in reuniting with relatives by Thanksgiving… but will it actually happen?
And air bridge or travel corridor could allow for quarantine-free travel (or at least less restricted travel) between the two cities, providing a PCR Covid-19 testing protocol was in place.
Currently, American tourists are permitted to fly to the UK, as long as they agree to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival. Travel is not possible the other way around, as there is still a travel ban in place for British travelers looking to enter the U.S.
An air bridge could allow travelers to circumvent these bans and restrictions, especially with the busy holiday season approaching.
This isn’t the first time potential ‘quarantine-free flights’ between London and New York have been in the news. Rumors and whispers of a New York – London air corridor have been popping up for months, unfortunately, with no progress.
The New York Post ran a story on air-bridges back on August 27, saying: “An “air bridge” between the Big Apple and Big Ben is being discussed by the US and UK as a possible means for travelers to sidestep quarantine rules amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.”
And Time Out on October 2 wrote: “In a normal year, 5 million tourists visit the USA from the UK and 4.5 million go the other way. Travel between the two countries has been all but impossible since March. But now the British and American governments are said to be in talks to introduce a ‘transatlantic air bridge’ connecting London and New York – meaning that your dream city break (or that all-important family reunion) could be back on the cards.”
Now come mid-October, what actions are actually being taken to solidify the dream of an air bridge between the two cities?
John Holland-Kaye, the CEO of Heathrow airport made a statement in September declaring “We’ve heard from the Prime Minister that he hopes to go to a trial in the second half of October.”, yet no trial date has been defined.
Paul Charles from the PC Agency in the UK is a firm believer that pre-flight testing should replace these blanket 14-day quarantines, and fast. While he doesn’t think the government will completely abolish all quarantines completely, he is pushing for them to at least consider shortening quarantine times to 5 days, while the traveler awaits a second PCR test. This kind of double-testing protocol could see the safe return of travel to and from the UK.
A 5-day quarantine plus test, instead of 14 days, is still very much a possibility for November. A taskforce of travel and health experts will hopefully recommend it can be done and quickly implemented. That would boost confidence to book and travel from late November onwards. https://t.co/gSdVO4eWgE— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) October 7, 2020
However, with both the UK and the USA recording their highest number of active cases to date, and with political tensions surrounding the election, some experts suggest that the air bridge’s potential of coming to life right now is not likely.
Aviation guru Ben Schlappig from One Mile At A Time wrote on the subject saying: “I could be wrong, but personally it seems more likely to me that the US would lift its European travel ban altogether, rather than making an exception for New York. Though frankly neither seem particularly likely to me at this point.”
The UK isn’t the only destination that the US is eyeing up. According to the Standard, The Department of Homeland Security and other US agencies are said discussions also reportedly taking place with Germany to consider a similar type of air bridge scenario. However, if it’s anything like the UK proposal, it might be set on the buck-burner until a later date.
While many are desperate to see their families over the holidays and have long been separated by love ones due to travel bans, the air bridge would be a wonderful first-step in reconnecting the two continents, but the dream might find itself buried under policies.
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