Airlines Urge U.S. and U.K. Governments to Start COVID Testing Trial

Major U.S. and U.K. airlines want their government to cooperate in launching a passenger testing trial for COVID-19 in order to increase the number of flights between London and New York. The goal is to create the framework for resuming more international travel.

In a letter government transportation officials, as reported by Reuters, to the chief executives of Airlines for America, Airlines UK, Heathrow Airport and Virgin Atlantic Airways said both governments should “establish passenger testing solutions in air travel."

It continued: “We believe that in the immediate absence of a vaccine, testing of passengers in aviation provides the best and most effective frontline defense.” They urged the governments to establish a testing trial between New York and London by month’s end “to gather real world evidence and data.”

The initiative was backed by the U.S. Travel Association, which shared the following statement:

“We have long maintained that testing is the key to both safer travel and reopening the economy. More rapid, efficient testing allows for a broader reopening of the travel economy and will enable organizations to more quickly restore lost jobs and rehire workers. Importantly, a robust testing program would allow America to welcome back international visitors, a segment of travel that has effectively disappeared since the start of the pandemic.

“Increased COVID-19 testing—paired with a federal framework of relief, protection and stimulus, as well as adherence to healthy travel habits such as wearing masks—can help shorten the recovery time and put America on the path toward an economic revival.”

Airlines for America members include American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and United, among others. Airlines UK includes British Airways, Norwegian, Ryanair, KLM and more.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently said that the United States economy could lose $155 billion due to the collapse of international travel during 2020. The decline in international travelers and tourists could result in international visitor spending dropping by a staggering 79 percent.

WTTC also pointed out that New York City, in particular, was at risk of losing its position among the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel. Data for 2018 shows how New York City is particularly dependent on international visitor spending compared to the U.S. as a whole. It accounted for 45 percent of all tourism spending in the city. The U.K. was the most important source market for the city.

Related Stories

Brussels Airlines Accelerates Process to Resolve Refund Backlog

Zurich Airport Named Most Passenger-Friendly in Europe

American, Delta Match United, Announce No Change Fees

Lufthansa Group Airlines Drop Rebooking Fees