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British Airways chief calls UK ‘crazy’ for not exploiting success of vaccination drive

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the UK government was “crazy” not to reap the success of the country’s vaccination drive and reopen travel routes to low-risk countries.

Mr Doyle said the UK economy risked being “left behind” Europe and America because the government’s strict travel restrictions could stagnate the aviation sector and, in turn, the wider pandemic recovery.

The BA boss, who took the reins of the UK carrier in October last year, urged the UK government to “seize the moment pretty quickly” and reopen borders to low-risk destinations such as the US.

He described Britain’s tight restrictions as “frustrating” and said there were ways to open up travel safely.

“We’re not advocating the complete opening up of travel in an uncontrolled way,” Mr Doyle told delegates attending a CogX webinar on the future of travel.

“But we do think there are countries out there which have very low risk, low infection levels and high rates of vaccination, and we should be opening up aviation between those countries.

“We should be acknowledging that vaccinated travellers have an inherently lower risk when they travel than those who don’t. It’s crazy not to try and reap that dividend.”

One route Mr Doyle is particularly keen on opening up as soon as possible is the UK-US corridor, with last weekend’s in-person G7 summit in Cornwall highlighting the value of face-to-face meetings.

While business travel has been slower to recover in parts of the world where the aviation sector is returning to normal service, such as the US, Mr Doyle said people would want to follow the example of the G7 leaders and “go out and build relationships”.

“The G7 is critical in building a recovery pathway, which is co-ordinated for sectors like aviation,” he said.

We’re encouraging the UK and the US to build a framework to open up the…

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