US could establish a travel corridor with London by the end of the year

Oct 10, 2020

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Your winter travel plans to the U.S. may be possible after all.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials hope to reopen travel between New York City and London by the end of the year. No specifics have been announced yet, but WSJ notes that the “growing availability of Covid-19 tests in the U.S.” may allow for “shortened traveler quarantine periods” when traveling between the two cities.

The report states the White House’s National Security Council has already approved the corridor plan, so it may make more headway over the coming weeks. It’s not yet known if the U.K. has already approved these plans.

WSJ’s source said that travelers would be tested before boarding their flight to the U.K. and upon arrival in the country to reduce quarantine time. It’s not clear how short quarantine would be for these travelers, but it’s safe to say it will be shorter than the current 14-day quarantine U.S. citizens are subject to upon arrival.

New York to London could be the first of many “COVID-free” travel corridors we see over the coming months. WSJ also noted that the U.S. and Germany have been in similar talks, but no route specifics were mentioned. There’s no word if other European nations — or the European Union — have been in similar talks.

Further, U.K. citizens are currently barred from entering the U.S. if they’ve spent time in the U.K. within the last 14 days. I think it’s safe to assume that this ban would be lifted if the New York to London corridor was put into place, though it wasn’t specifically mentioned in the article.

Will this actually happen?

London Heathrow arrivals
Travel to the U.K. may be possible with a shorter quarantine later this year. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s interesting to see the U.S. and U.K. start talks on a travel corridor now — especially when you consider new coronavirus case counts. The U.S. continues to see days with more than 50,000 new infections. Likewise, the U.K. broke records with just under 23,000 new cases on Oct. 4.

Both New York and London have seen a rise in new cases over the past two weeks as well. At the same time, however, New York’s case count has remained extremely low when compared to other parts of the U.S.

That said, I think it’s still likely that we could see this travel corridor come to fruition by the holidays.

Mortality rates have continued to stay low in both countries. Mandatory testing before and after arrival would also ensure that no new cases are introduced from either side of the pond too.

Additionally, the U.K. has been one of the few European countries admitting American tourists and travelers throughout the coronavirus pandemic, albeit with quarantine. New York to London is an extremely important route for business, leisure and family travel, so reopening the routes would be great news for U.S. and U.K. airlines, businesses and tourism — something badly needed in both countries.

If implemented, we will likely see this spur other travel corridors worldwide, especially in countries that rely heavily on tourism.

Bottom line

Reopening travel between New York and London would be a huge step forward for the airline industry. It’s the most profitable airline route in the world, bringing over $1 billion in revenue to British Airways every year. In addition, other industry heavyweights like Virgin Atlantic, American, Delta, and United operate the route on a near-hourly basis during normal travel times.

These types of travel corridors might be the key to reopening international travel until there’s a widely available vaccine. We’ll keep an eye out for an official announcement from the U.S. or U.K. government.

Feature photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

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