US airlines and travel industry are pushing the White House to end pre-travel testing for vaccinated international travellers.
1. Pre-testing to fly to the US
While Covid-19 restrictions are being eased across several countries, representatives from the travel industry in the US have urged the Biden administration to scrap the country’s requirements that vaccinated international travellers must take a Covid-19 test before flying to the US.
Airlines for America, representing major US air carriers, and the US Travel Association, representing the broad travel and tourism industry, voiced joint concerns arguing that the requirement does not match the current threat from Covid-19 and that the measure is harming the US economy.
“Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the US,” said Nick Calio, Airlines for America’s chief after meeting White Hose officials on May 31.
It is past time for the U.S. to catch up with the rest of the globe and eliminate pre-departure testing — there is simply no scientific justification for maintaining this requirement. https://t.co/kJILUSADL3— Airlines for America (@AirlinesDotOrg) May 31, 2022
2. Damaging the US travel industry
In a separate statement, Roger Dow of the US Travel Association, said that while restrictions on many other businesses have been lifted, “the travel industry remains disproportionately harmed by this requirement.”
Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travellers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the US at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars.Roger Dow, US Travel Association
Airlines for America said its members, including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, are defending the lifting of these disproportionate restrictive measures under the belief that more foreigners would visit the US.
Today, we joined @AirlinesDotOrg at the White House, urging the Administration, @AshishKJha46 𝙤𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣 to immediately lift the pre-departure testing requirement for inbound vaccinated air travelers. @POTUS, the time to act on this…is now. ➡️ https://t.co/msDxmuoapZ pic.twitter.com/8QvKjNbSn6— U.S. Travel (@USTravel) May 31, 2022
The trade association added that in mid-May, domestic travel came within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel lagged at 14% below normal.
Airlines for America had already penned a joint letter to the White House urging the US government to drop the measures, which they still consider that “no longer make sense”.
3. Medical opinion
Apart from industry representatives, some medical experts have also questioned the policy’s utility. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee said that testing international arrivals doesn’t make much sense. “I’ve been bemused about that for a long time because we’ve got plenty of Covid-19 here! It’s not as though we’re trying to keep Covid-19 out,” Schaffner told CNN Travel in March. “It’s here already.”
In mid-April, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) advised Americans not to fly to Europe, amid fears of Covid-19 contagion. Yet, many US travellers ignored the CDC advise.