WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group representing major US airlines on Monday backed a proposal by public health officials to implement a global testing program that requires testing negative before most international air passengers return to the United States, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other major carriers, also urged the Trump administration in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence “to move forward with a recommendation to lift current entry restrictions on travelers from Europe, the UK. Kingdom and Brazil as quickly as possible … along with the testing program. “
In November, Reuters reported that the White House was considering lifting restrictions barring most non-US citizens from traveling to the United States from the 26-member Schengen area allowing travel across open borders in Europe, Britain, Ireland and Brazil.
“We are confident that a well-planned program focused on increasing testing of travelers to the United States will continue this goal in a much more effective manner than the comprehensive travel restrictions currently in place,” the airline’s letter said.
The airline supports a proposal by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement “a global program that mandates testing for travelers to the United States,” the letter added.
A senior government official said the CDC’s proposal to expand international testing requirements faced significant opposition at the top levels of the administration, including in Pence’s office. The White House coronavirus task force is expected to meet on Tuesday and the matter is scheduled to be discussed, officials said.
The CDC on December 28 began requiring all airline passengers arriving from the UK – including US citizens – to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure.
A CDC spokesman declined to comment on Monday but the agency said last week that “efforts are currently underway in the US to assess risk reduction associated with testing and other recommended countermeasures … and get some level of agreement on standards for the approach. aligned to test international air travel. “
Airlines are seeking at least 14 days before the new requirements take effect and “consideration of inadequate testing and availability of results in certain countries rather than overarching requirements worldwide is also required,” the letter said.
Starting Thursday, Canada will require air travelers aged five and over who have tested negative for COVID-19 prior to arrival.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Edited by Chris Reese, Nick Zieminski and David Gregorio