Airlines for America, a trade association and lobbying group representing major North American airlines, has urged the White House to get rid of the rule requiring vaccinated travelers entering the US from international flights to provide a negative COVID-19 test.
In a letter sent on February 2, 2022 to White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, Airlines for America requested that COVID-19 testing for travelers arriving in the US be removed as “doing so is justified by the pervasiveness of COVID cases in all 50 states, increased immunity and higher vaccination rates as well as new treatments”.
The group also said that removing the requirement “will greatly support the recovery of travel and aviation in the United States and globally without increasing the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.”
The group argued that the high number of COVID-19 cases in the country have been caused by the spread of the Omicron variant. “Clearly COVID is widespread throughout the U.S. and attempts to control its importation via air travel under today’s circumstances are unlikely to change that fact. No new threatening variants appear to be imminent, but if they were, pre-departure testing could be easily reinstituted.”
Airlines for America also cited the example of the European Union recently taking an individual-based rather than region-based approach to COVID-19 requirements.
The group also referred to a study carried out in Italy and Finland which found that testing travelers has “virtually no impact on domestic infection rates”.
Airlines for America also stressed that travel and aviation’s recovery is dependent on the government taking steps to remove travel restrictions that are no longer justified by current circumstances.