Delta says New York-London travel corridor would be 'complicated'

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 aircraft as seen on final approach flying, landing and taxiing after touch down in Amsterdam Schiphol EHAM AMS International Airport in the Netherlands. The wide body long haul Airbus A330-300 airplane has the registration N808NW and is powered by 2x PW jet engines. Delta Airlines is an American legacy airline carrier, one of the major in the United States with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and member of SkyTeam aviation alliance. Delta DL DAL is the second largest airline in the world. The world passenger traffic declined during the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic with the industry struggling to survive. Amsterdam, Netherlands on November 18, 2020 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A pilot scheme by US carrier United Airlines (UAL), launched mid-November, raised the hopes that ministers would give the go-ahead to the crucial travel corridor between London and New York. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) boss has cast doubt on a scheme aimed at creating a travel corridor between London and New York.

Chief executive Ed Bastian told the Financial Times that the route in question is “complicated” and that airlines would be better off targeting a passage between “just about any” other European capitals.

A pilot scheme by US carrier United Airlines (UAL), launched mid-November, raised the hopes that ministers would give the go-ahead to the crucial travel corridor.

As part of the month-long scheme, the carrier will guarantee that all passengers do not have the COVID-19 virus. Findings will be shared with officials in the UK and US once the four-week trial is up.

The United trial will be free for all passengers over the age of two and rapid testing will take place at New York's Newark airport. UK airlines are working with Heathrow on their own coronavirus-free pilot.

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The hope is that by sharing the results of the trial, governments on both sides of the Atlantic give the travel corridor the green light.

If the trial is successful it could allow the London to New York routes — one of the world’s busiest and most profitable routes for the likes of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic — to reopen.

The routes are heavily used by executives and dealmakers and provide an important business services link.

It is also an important corridor for Heathrow airport, which has been hard hit by the pandemic impact of grounded flights and reduced passenger numbers.

Airlines across the world have been wounded by the impact of the pandemic.

Among others facing financial stress, Norwegian Air (NAS.OL), recently said it may run out of cash in the first quarter of next year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh heavily on its top line.

The airline had been a trailblazer in creating low-cost routes over the Atlantic, and its rapid expansion left it with ballooning debt bills. By mid-2020 these totted up to close to $8bn ($6bn).

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