Airlines pray ‘green listing’ of US will see Big Apple breaks take off

This week, ministers may finally divulge where and when holidaymakers can go, with a “green list” of countries that can be visited without quarantine on return.

The Department for Transport insists it is on track to confirm, by “early May” as promised, whether planes can take off, and where to.

Speculation is rife nonetheless.

For short-haul and budget airlines – and most holidaymakers – the key question is how sunshine destinations will be classified.

The transatlantic air corridor – in particular London to New York – has long been the world’s most lucrative.

Forecast global losses for aviation in 2021 are now $48bn , according to an increasingly gloomy prognosis from the International Air Travel Association – on top of $126bn in 2020.

Juha Järvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, reeled off statistics underlining the importance of the transatlantic route to the UK economy, as well as to Virgin, citing £273bn of annual trade between the US and the UK.

But for this key route, Britain’s decision is of course only half the battle.

Flights to the US continue to take off daily, albeit with nothing like the usual frequency, and with cargo playing a huge part in their viability.

Meanwhile, a host of other issues remain to be resolved: whether proof of vaccination could replace testing requirements; if the government will publish in full the parameters of its criteria for each “traffic light” categorisation; and how often the list will be reviewed.

Airlines say it also means little may change in schedules by the date international travel is theoretically permitted.

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