Travel industry calls on administration to establish testing protocols for international travel

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Major travel industry groups called on the Trump administration to establish a globally accepted framework for testing protocols in order to support the return of international travel on Wednesday.

The groups, including Airlines for America, the U.S. Travel Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and Transportation Department Secretary Elaine Chao, noting that other governments have implemented pre-travel or post-arrival testing requirements. 

“We ask the U.S. government, working with the aviation industry, to move forward expeditiously to establish similar protocols,” the groups wrote. “We are cognizant of the many complexities and issues surrounding COVID-19 testing. It is precisely because of these complexities that we call on the U.S. government to work on a bilateral and multilateral basis to establish a globally accepted framework for testing protocols for international travel.”

The groups suggested a testing pilot program between the U.S. and either Europe, Canada or the Pacific and asked that the government partner with the industry on new concepts for airports and airlines like bubbles or airbridges.

In addition, they asked that testing protocols be medically based, affordable, dependable, privacy-oriented and nondisruptive. The groups asked that the testing measures be ones that can be conducted within a reasonable time window prior to departure, and that U.S. tests be accepted elsewhere.

“Coordinated and deliberate action must be taken to safely reopen the international travel market. These markets must be reopened to unite loved ones with their families, reinvigorate business travel including allowing U.S. citizens access to travel to key economic partners, and spur the travel and tourism market that so many communities in the U.S. depend on,” the groups wrote. 

Other groups on the letter include the Airport Council International – North America, American Association of Airport Executives, National Air Carrier Association and the Travel Technology Association.

The groups noted that the U.S. is set to lose $155 billion from the economy due to the collapse of international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta Air Lines was the first airline to announce it was restarting flights to China in June and United Airlines resumed service between the U.S. and China, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore in July.

Last month, San Francisco International Airport became the first U.S. airport to provide on-site rapid coronavirus testing for its employees and said the goal is to eventually extend the service to passengers.

Tags Airlines Chad Wolf COVID-19 pandemic Elaine Chao
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