The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations is likely to be a key determinant of progress in the return of international travel in Europe. However, countries where vaccination is advanced may remain cautious to protect this advantage, especially against the threat of new variants of the virus.
For example, the UK has the most advanced vaccination programme among countries with more than 10 million people, but its 22-Feb-2021 roadmap out of lockdown envisages international travel returning no earlier than 17-May-2021. Even then, the lifting of travel restrictions is likely to favour other countries which also have high vaccination rates.
The US has also made good vaccination progress, but the European Union and Asia are lagging. This raises questions over the pace of recovery of short haul European travel this summer.
The two key long haul markets, Europe-Asia and the North Atlantic, have collapsed during the pandemic. Europe-Asia and European Union-US may remain weak until vaccination programmes at both ends equalise.
However, good vaccination progress in both the UK and the US raises the possibility that UK-US air travel might lead Europe's long haul recovery - although it is still uncertain just what the impact of vaccinations will have on international travel.