An aviation trade group that represents some of the biggest airlines in the United States, including American Airlines, Delta and United, has backed proposals to make all travelers arriving in the U.S. from abroad present a negative COVID-19 test certificate dated within 72-hours of travel.
The U.S. already requires travelers coming from the United Kingdom take a pre-departure test after alarm was raised about a new variant of the novel Coronavirus which is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than previous variants.
Airlines 4 America said in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and which has been seen by Reuters that the U.S. should widen those rules to all international travelers. Like the current rules for travelers from the UK, either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or cheaper, more accessible rapid tests could be accepted.
Sources claim U.S. health officials have been studying ways they could introduce the proposed rules, although no final decision has yet been made. A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency was still studying the potential “risk reduction associated with testing and other recommended preventative measures”.
The CDC said it was yet to “determine what a feasible testing regime for air travel may look like, and gain some level of agreement on standards for a harmonized approach to testing for international air travel”.
By backing an international testing strategy U.S. airlines would want current travel bans on travelers from Europe and the UK to be lifted. The White House Coronavirus task force has already backed proposals to lift the travel ban but President Trump is yet to make a decision on the matter.
In the letter to VP Pence, the airlines said the U.S. could use pre-departure testing “to move ahead with recommendations to rescind current entry restrictions on travelers from Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil as soon as possible. These entry restrictions should be removed concurrently with the testing program.”
The cost of pre-departure testing would likely be borne by travelers with PCR tests costing as much as $120 and rapid tests around $80.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.