American travel to London always has been considered one of the easiest European trips because of the shorter distance and lack of a language barrier. Now, it may be the most difficult.
The airlines are trying to revive international travel, but Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told the Financial Times that the traditional transatlantic trip from New York to London is “complicated” right now because of coronavirus restrictions that make any other European destination an easier trip.
“I think you will find on the continent several countries that are more open,” Bastian told the Financial Times. “I think New York–London is complicated.”
The New York–London route normally has been a busy, profitable one, especially among tourists, who are more likely to undergo COVID-19 testing for international travel. Some of United’s Newark–London flights began offering free pre-departure rapid testing in its airport club last week.
The Financial Times reported that the United Kingdom is expected to cut quarantine requirements on arriving travelers from 14 to seven days.
Domestic travel is picking up faster than international travel, particularly in the holiday season, but Bastian estimated travel amid a surging coronavirus case count is still at 35% to 40% of last year’s business.
During the New York Times’ DealBook Online Summit on Nov. 17 and 18, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates predicted that the use of videoconferencing will cut the number of business trips in half.
“I think business travel’s going to be on the way back,” Bastian told the Financial Times. “Bill Gates is not a road warrior …. He’s not the person to be forecasting that.”
It’s Bastian’s job to hope that. But that optimism comes from the same airline that will not be selling its middle seats, except to families, until March 30.