Airline officials press Biden to end COVID-19 testing for international travelers
Airline industry officials and lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration to drop pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements for vaccinated international travelers, arguing the mandate is costing the sector billions of dollars in revenue each month.
Many other countries have dropped such requirements, and industry leaders argue the policy does not match the threat posed by the virus.
Lawmakers are also pushing the Biden administration to drop the testing requirement, which has been in place since January 2021.
“We need to do everything we can. … Amending international travel restrictions is necessary,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said at a Senate transportation subcommittee hearing Tuesday. “We have heard from industry leaders … to better understand how Congress can be helpful and when we need to get the federal government out of the way.”
Even as domestic travel has rebounded from pandemic-era lows, international travel to the U.S. has lagged behind. Industry officials told lawmakers Tuesday that the greatest inhibitor of international travel is the testing requirement.
“The testing requirement is impacting people’s willingness to travel and puts the U.S. at risk of falling behind other countries,” said Suzanne Neufang, the CEO of the Global Business Travel Association.
The U.S. does not require vaccinated international travelers entering the country via land to submit pre-departure testing results.
A May poll conducted by Morning Consult found that 46 percent of international respondents would be more likely to travel to the U.S. if the pre-departure testing requirement was dropped.
Travel industry officials met in late May with White House officials about the testing requirements, but the Biden administration so far has not lifted the requirement.
Ralph Cutié, the director and CEO of Miami International Airport, the country’s busiest airport for international travelers, told lawmakers he backs the ending of the testing requirements, which could result in an increase for a key sector of travelers — those coming to the U.S. for business.
“If we can get these restrictions lifted, we could really tap into that one missing piece that will get us over the top, which is the international business travel,” Cutié said at the hearing.
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