Two senior Boeing executives have joined the fight against domestic pre-flight testing in the US, stating that the practice could pose significant damage to the national economy.
The US federal government has touted the new policy that would see domestic travellers subject to the same regulations as those coming from overseas, meaning they would require a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
The policy was suggested as COVID cases in the US continue to increase by over 100,000 per day.
Now, Boeing commercial airplanes chief executive Stan Deal and chief aerospace safety officer Michael Delaney have joined US airlines in pushing back against the introduction of any such policy.
“Imposing such a burden on the already financially beleaguered airline industry has the potential for severe unintended consequences that will ripple across the entire economy,” Deal and Delaney wrote in a letter to the White House.
The Boeing officials also questioned the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision to seemingly focus its efforts on airports and aircraft, instead of other means of regional and interstate transportation, such as buses and trains.
“If this broader travel journey is, in fact, the main concern of the CDC, then science would dictate all aspects of travel should receive similar scrutiny including hotels, car rental agencies, mass transit, and restaurants,” the letter said.
The Boeing letter also raised concerns about testing costs and availability, noting that these factors could further devastate demand for air travel.
“If a testing mandate is prescribed by the administration, funding should also be provided to comply,” the letter said.
The CDC announced on 26 January that the Biden administration was “actively looking” into mandatory pre-flight testing for domestic passengers, just days after the same policy was introduced for overseas arrivals.
The CDC has repeatedly urged Americans not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, stated that under current circumstances, “it is not a good idea to travel, period”.
“If you absolutely have to travel and it’s essential, then obviously, one would have to do that. But we don’t want people to think because they got vaccinated that other public health recommendations just don’t apply,” Dr Fauci said.
No policy has been formally introduced as of yet to mandate pre-flight testing for domestic travellers in the US.