London to New York ‘air corridor’ could be in place by November

American and British officials are stepping up discussions ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas

Harriet Alexander
Saturday 10 October 2020 19:13
Flights between London and New York (pictured, JFK airport) could resume in time for Thanksgiving
Flights between London and New York (pictured, JFK airport) could resume in time for Thanksgiving
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US officials are reviving stalled talks about creating an “air corridor” between London and New York, it was reported on Saturday, with hope that a system could be in place in time for Thanksgiving.

The American holiday, on November 26 this year, usually sees huge numbers of people flying internationally and domestically, to visit relatives and take advantage of days off work.

British and US authorities had discussed the possibility of an air corridor between London and New York earlier this year, but the talks now have added urgency as Thanksgiving and Christmas draw nearer.

The Transportation Department, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies are attempting once again to establish safe travel corridors between the US and international destinations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Establishing those routes would require travelers to be tested for Covid-19 before their flight and again upon arrival, allowing them to avoid lengthy quarantines at their destinations.

Covid tests could be introduced at airports in London and New York to create an ‘air corridor'

Talks are also being held with German officials, the paper said.

A Homeland Security official said the agency’s work to “safely encourage trans-Atlantic travel while mitigating public health risks” was in its early stages.

Currently, American citizens traveling to the UK must quarantine for 14 days and cannot travel to most of the European Union. 

Travellers from the UK and Europe are not allowed into the United States, unless they are US citizens or permanent residents.

On 1 October, Tampa airport in Florida became the first in the US to sell Covid tests to passengers who wanted to have one.

Before boarding or after landing, travelers can get a $57 (£44) antigen test with an 88 per cent accuracy that gives results within 15 minutes, or a $125 (£96) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that has 95 per cent accuracy but takes 48 hours to deliver results. Ticketed travellers can visit the airport in the days leading up to their flight for the PCR test.

Departing passengers who come up positive for the antigen test would be advised not to board.

The tests are not compulsory.

Under the plans for the New York-London air corridor, however, the tests would be mandatory before boarding and the cost, as yet unspecified, would likely be borne by the passenger.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, said on 30 September that progress was being made and he hoped to have flights “up and running” by the end of November.

“We’ve heard from the Prime Minister that he hopes to go to a trial in the second half of October,” he said. 

“I would love to have a New York-London pilot up and running by Thanksgiving. That seems entirely feasible.”

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