Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organisation for the leading US airlines, led by a coalition of travel-industry groups, has urged the Biden administration to eliminate the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements for vaccinated passengers travelling to the US.
In a letter addressed to a White House response coordinator to the pandemic, Jeffrey Zients, , the group mentioned that the recovery of the US aviation sector would depend on the government removing COVID-19 restrictions that no longer suit the circumstances. The coalition includes the Aerospace Industries Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, the US Travel Association, the International Air Transport Association, and the trade association Airlines for America.
The group further highlighted that pre-departure testing guideline is why passengers decide not to travel internationally. “People simply are unwilling to take the chance that they will be unable to return to the US at the end of their business trip or vacation,” it mentioned.
22% of the US population has had the COVID-19 virus
Airlines for America, an organisation that comprises top US airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, Delta Air Lines Inc., and others, said that the international air travel was down 38% compared to 2019 as of last week. The letter also noted that more than 74.3 million people in the US have had COVID-19, implying that at least 22% of the population has had the virus.
“COVID-19 is widespread throughout the US, and attempts to control its importation via air travel under today’s circumstances are unlikely to change that fact,” it said. If any new threatening variants appear again, the guideline for pre-departure testing could be quickly reinstated, the letter added.
European Union has already recommended its member countries to remove COVID-19 travel restrictions within Europe. The UK recently announced its plan to drop pre-departure testing for vaccinated travellers from February 11.
Currently, the US COVID travel guidelines urge the passengers travelling to the US to submit negative test results from a test taken a day before the journey from an international location for entry. The White House has not responded to the letter. Besides the pandemic, the US aviation sector is already battling the severity of the climate and 5G interference, resulting in cancellations and delays in flight operations.