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Airlines push for joint US-EU testing scheme

written by Hannah Dowling | July 24, 2020

Airport COVID-19 testing stationsA number of airlines around the globe are pushing officials for a joint testing program between the US and Europe, which would see free movement between the two continents.

Major airline chief executives joined forces to send a letter on Tuesday, which called upon both US and European governments to introduce a new joint COVID-19 testing scheme that will allow for trans-Atlantic travel to resume.

Signatories of the letter included British Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines and Lufthansa. The letter was reportedly sent both to US Vice President Mike Pence and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

“We are writing with urgency to you as leaders of the response to COVID-19 to request the safe and swift restoration of air travel between the United States and Europe,” the letter said.

“We urge you to consider adopting a joint US-EU COVID-19 testing program to enhance safety and build confidence in critical trans-Atlantic passenger air services.”

It continued: “Given the unquestioned importance of trans-Atlantic air travel to the global economy as well as to the economic recovery of our businesses, we believe it is critical to find a way to re-open air services between the US and Europe.

“We recognise that testing presents a number of challenges, however we believe that a pilot testing program for the trans-Atlantic market could be an excellent opportunity for government and industry to work together.”

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The letter responds to current travel restrictions that have seen travel between the US and Europe largely limited, with the proposed testing scheme a potential lifeline for international carriers.

The European Union has currently banned US residents from entering into its member states, while the UK will only allow US travellers in after a mandatory 14 days in self-imposed quarantine.

Meanwhile, the US has largely restricted travellers from entering from Europe.

Push for airport testing in place of quarantine

At the same time, the aviation and tourism industries within the UK are pushing urgent discussion with the government to prioritise COVID-19 testing in airports.

The companies involved believe that airport testing should take the place of mandatory quarantine requirements, and bring tourists back into the UK before the summer holiday season comes to an end.

Under the proposed program, a negative test result would free travellers from needing to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

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