With travel demand expected to slow in the next few months, the nation’s airlines have pressed the Trump administration to replace sweeping restrictions on inbound international travel with a COVID-19 testing requirement for all visitors arriving from foreign countries.
Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation’s largest carriers, expressed its support for the testing of inbound international travelers — as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, saying the change “will provide yet another layer of safety in the travel journey.”
Calio said any mandates should consider countries with limited testing capabilities, and he suggested the government make rapid testing available for the effort. He also touched on other complications, such as what to do with passengers who make short, international round-trips. The proposed policy change would replace the administration’s broad restrictions against inbound travel by anyone who has been in China, Iran, most of Europe or Brazil in the previous 14 days, with a few exceptions, including U.S. citizens.
In addition, the U.S. has reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to limit nonessential travel, including leisure travel, across borders. For all other international travelers visiting the U.S., no testing is yet required.
U.S. carriers saw a surge in travel demand around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, with daily travel numbers jumping above a million fliers on most days, among the highest numbers since March. But industry experts say airlines and travel agents are about to start a traditionally slow season, made worse by a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“The virus being the way it is now, it’s not a good time for people to travel,” said Henry Harteveldt, an aviation industry analyst for Atmosphere Research Group.