US reopening: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrate with dual take-off from London to New York
The US relaxed entry requirements on 8 November 2021. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the return of transatlantic travel with a dual take-off of their first flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK. It marked the first day since 16 March 2020 that the vast majority of UK nationals have been able to fly to the US.
In recognition of a long campaigned for and pivotal moment for the travel industry, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic came together in a unique show of unity, with a synchronised departure on parallel runways at Heathrow. British Airways flight BA001 and Virgin Atlantic flight VS3, operating on A350 aircraft, both departed London Heathrow for New York JFK at 08:30 on Monday 8 November.
Reopening the transatlantic travel corridor more than 600 days since the US travel ban was introduced will provide a significant boost for the aviation industry, help both nations’ economic recoveries and re-establish vital business connections. The US is the UK’s largest trading partner, and aviation contributes £23 million per day to the UK economy. In 2019, 22 million people travelled between the two countries, along with 900,000 tonnes of cargo.
“After more than 600 days of separation, today is our moment to celebrate the UK-US reopening,” said Sean Doyle, Chairman and CEO, British Airways. “Transatlantic connectivity is vital for the UK’s economic recovery, which is why we’ve been calling for the safe reopening of the UK-US travel corridor for such a long time. We must now look forward with optimism, get trade and tourism back on track and allow friends and families to connect once again.”
Shai Weiss, Chief Executive, Virgin Atlantic, commented: “The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years and we are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. We’ve been steadily ramping up flying to destinations including Boston, New York, Orlando, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their favourite US cities to reconnect with loved ones and colleagues. As the UK forges its recovery from the pandemic, the reopening of the transatlantic corridor and the lifting of Presidential Order 212F acknowledges the great progress both nations have made in rolling out successful vaccine programmes. The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, through boosting trade and tourism. We are thankful to Prime Minister Johnson and the UK Government, the Biden administration and our industry partners for their support in removing these barriers and allowing free travel between our countries to resume.”