New COVID-19 testing rules could bankrupt airlines, US union leader says

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The head of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) warned the government of the United States that mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements for passengers prior to domestic flights could lead to potential bankruptcies among airlines. 

“U.S. government-required testing before domestic flights could lead to airline bankruptcies. That is how devastating it could be,” the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), representing 20 airlines’ workers, Sara Nelson told the US House of Representatives transportation and infrastructure committee on February 4, 2021.

The head of AFA-CWA emphasized the need to detect the virus and prevent the frontline aviation workers from contracting the COVID-19 without isolating the airline industry, which is critical in worldwide vaccine distribution.

“We encourage the federal government to set up vaccine clinics in major airports and make it easy for airline crew members to access both their first and second doses to maximize efficacy of vaccines”, Nelson said.

The union leader added that isolating the airline industry and not doing the same thing for mass transit or doing this at grocery stores or restaurants did not make any sense.

On January 26,  2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the Biden administration was “actively looking” at mandating COVID-19 testing on domestic flights. However, airlines and unions have pushed back the idea for passengers and aircrews to test for the COVID-19 prior to domestic flights.

“Why pick on air travel? If you want to test people, test them, but test them before they go to the grocery store,”  Southwest Airlines CEO Gerry Kelly said on a quarterly earnings call on January 28, 2021.


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