Airline bosses have called the opening of a travel corridor between the US and UK amid both countries’ “world-leading vaccination programmes” in a joint statement released Monday.
The chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and JetBlue joined British carriers Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways in urging President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lift travel restrictions between the two countries.
The bosses of the US Travel Association and London’s Heathrow Airport also joined the call ahead of the G7 meeting in Cornwall, England this week.
“There is a clear opportunity to safely open up travel between these two low-risk countries,” the statement said.
The group urged the US government to allow fully vaccinated UK travelers, or those who can show a negative COVID-19 test, to enter the country.
The US is on the UK’s “amber list” for travel, meaning that visitors arriving from the US into the country must quarantine for 10 days, and take two COVID-19 tests.
“Experts have encouraged governments, businesses and the public to follow the science,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “United and other airlines have done that and implemented the necessary safety protocols to re-open key international routes like the air corridor between our two countries. We are ready.”
Airlines posted record losses in 2020 after the pandemic forced them to suspend international travel. American Airlines reported a $8.9 billion annual loss in 2020.
British Airways just dealt a blow to its premium customers as the airline is scrapping the all-business class aircraft formerly offered on the billion-dollar London-New York flagship route, Aviation Week reported.
The VIP-configured Airbus A318 aircraft was the only one of its kind in the British Airways fleet when its retirement was announced in July. The service boasted enhanced convenience and luxury to the business travelers that frequented the route and, with capacity for only 32 passengers, it was among the closest to a private jet in the airline world.
British Airways used the service to solidify its place as the route’s go-to premium carrier, replacing the Concorde as the crown jewel of the airline’s transatlantic offering. The smaller and more exclusive A318 service catered to the airline’s top spenders with a direct link between New York City and London’s financial district.
It was also a bucket list flight for many aviation enthusiasts since the A318 was already itself a rare aircraft on which to fly, let alone on a transatlantic journey and in an all-business class configuration. But the aircraft is no longer in British Airways’ fleet after being sent to be dismantled in the Netherlands, according to Aviation Week.
Take a look inside the most exclusive aircraft to connect New York and London since the Concorde.
Most people traveling between New York and London on British Airways before the pandemic found themselves either flying on a Boeing 747-400…
Or Boeing 777-200.
The two make up the majority of flights flying the $1 billion route between the two economic hubs but most don’t know about the third aircraft that flew British Airways’ top clients: the Airbus A318.
The smallest member of the Airbus A320 family, the A318 was a commercial flop for Airbus that only saw a handful of customers, mostly in Europe.
The aircraft is out of production and though British Airways was among the last and smallest operators of the type, it made the aircraft an icon in transatlantic aviation by flying it between New York and London.
While the thought of flying on a short-haul aircraft across the Atlantic may seem unappealing, there’s a catch to this aircraft in that it’s configured in an all-business class configuration.
Only 32 seats make up that sole premium cabin that’s spread out across eight rows.
And though small in size, this A318 had no shortage of comfort as all rows featured business class seats with fully lie-flat capabilities. These seats are not found on similar aircraft.
Amenities and features at each seat standard for business class included a plush pillow and blanket kit from The White Company….
Amenity kit from The White Company…
Foldable tray table…
Personal reading lamp…
110v AC power outlet…
And adjustable headrest.
Apple iPads were also distributed in lieu of seat-back entertainment screens.
Each row also had multiple windows for better views of the crossing during the day.
Though the standard in business class is now enclosed private suites which the A318 didn’t offer, a small divider separated the paired seats for an additional morsel of privacy.
Only three flight attendants serviced the passengers, providing a full business class meal service and drinks for the 3,000-nautical mile journey.
The seats were controlled via the armrest, with numerous customizable positions.
The lie-flat capability of the seats was ideal for the evening red-eye flight from New York to London, allowing business travelers to get a comfortable full night’s rest and head straight to work or meetings the next morning.
British Airways frequently saw passengers arriving in New York and London only to return within the next 24 hours, with the near downtown-to-downtown service allowing for a quick and luxurious in-and-out of the world’s top business centers.
While not the most modern business class product, the service as a whole made the Airbus A318 the aircraft of choice for those who could afford it when flying between London and New York.
And with only eight rows and 32 seats, the aircraft felt more like a private jet than a commercial airliner. Case in point, the flight before my visit in March 2020 only had five passengers on board.
As the aircraft couldn’t make it from London to New York nonstop – even with the reduced passenger load – it made a stop in Shannon, Ireland for fuel, where it also cleared US Customs and Border Protection.
Upon landing in New York, passengers onboard BA1 arrived in the terminal as they would if it were a domestic flight, with no further passport checks required.
British Airways only had one A318 in its fleet, G-EUNA, which solely flew this route.
Designed with business travelers in mind, the aircraft flew every day of the week except Saturdays.
It was intended to fill the gap left by the Concorde in 2003, with the A318’s first flight occurring in 2009.
G-EUNA flew the flag on British Airways’ flagship route wearing either the flight number BA1 or BA2 – depending on which direction it was flying – for 11 years before the coronavirus pandemic ended its tenure permanently in July.
Though not as fast as Concorde, the service was nearly every bit as exclusive, earning the nickname “Concorde’s baby sister.”
Three airlines are now requiring negative COVID-19 tests for passengers heading to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport from the United Kingdom.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic to implement the measures following news of a new and potentially more transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus.
The new strain could be as much a 70% more transmissible, Matt Hancock, the UK’s health minister said.
British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic said they would start requiring travelers heading to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to test negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding.
The decision comes after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked several airlines to require travelers heading to the airport from the United Kingdom to be tested following news on a new strain of the novel coronavirus.
A Delta spokesperson told Business Insider: “Customers will be required to take a LAMP or PCR test up to 72 hours prior to departure adding another layer of safety when they travel.”
The spokesperson said Delta will be working closely with Cuomo’s office in the following days “on the implementation of our plans as they specifically relate to our flights from London Heathrow to New York-JFK.”
British Airways did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.