DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com
Officials in the aviation industry are asking the United States government to drop pre-departure coronavirus testing requirements for vaccinated international passengers arriving in America.
According to Reuters.com, Airlines for America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, International Air Transport Association, Aerospace Industries Association, the U.S. Travel Association and other groups sent a letter demanding change to White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients.
“Surveys of air passengers indicate that pre-departure testing is a leading factor in the decision not to travel internationally,” the letter read. “People simply are unwilling to take the chance that they will be unable to return to the U.S.”
While the White House declined to comment on the letter, Airlines for America was demanding change, as international air travel was down 38 percent over 2019 levels. The Biden administration added the current negative COVID-19 test protocols in December.
In the letter, aviation officials cited evidence that at least 22 percent of the U.S. population had COVID-19, saying, “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.”
The letter cited the European Union and its recommendation to member countries to remove intra-Europe COVID travel restrictions. The United Kingdom also announced it would no longer require pre-departure testing for vaccinated air travelers entering England.
“The experience of Omicron has made it clear that travel restrictions have little to no impact in terms of preventing its spread,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said. “Moreover, as Omicron is already broadly present across the US, fully vaccinated travelers bring no extra risk to the local population.”
“International travelers should face no additional screening requirements than what is applied to domestic travel. In fact, at this stage of the pandemic, travel should be managed in the same way as access to shopping malls, restaurants or offices,” Walsh continued.
Officials concluded 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.”