Airlines are pushing the Biden Administration to drop a number of travel restrictions including pre-flight testing requirement for travelers flying to the USA, if they are vaccinated. They also want U.S. health officials to unequivocally state that vaccinated travelers can travel safely and work with other nations to develop verifiable vaccine passports. But thus far, the Biden Administration seems unwilling to take such substantive steps.
Airlines Ask Biden Administration To Drop Travel Restrictions
The demand list includes the following:
- Maintain the inbound international testing mandate and other key mitigation measures, which obviates the need for mandatory quarantines upon arrival
- Exempt vaccinated individuals from the international testing requirements, while avoiding vaccine requirements as a prerequisite to travel
- Update CDC guidance to state that vaccinated individuals can travel safely
- Develop uniform Federal principles for COVID-19 health credentials (CHCs)
- Quickly begin bilateral negotiations to ease travel restrictions through public health corridors
- Develop clear benchmarks and a transparent framework for determining when all inbound international travel restrictions can be lifted
- Prioritize the resumption of international travel on the agenda of the upcoming G-7 Meeting
- Once entry restrictions are lifted, consistently review on a monthly basis whether the inbound international testing mandate and other safety precautions are still needed
You can review the full letter sent to the White House here. It was signed not only by Airlines for America, the trade group representing major U.S. airlines, but also by the Association of Flight Attendants, the largest flight attendant union in the United States.
Yet the Biden Administration and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) seems reluctant at this point. On Monday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned:
“If we look at our European friends, we just don’t want to be at this rapid uptick of cases again, and that is very possible that that could happen. We are so close to vaccinating so many more people …. Now is not the time to travel.”
Any reduction in travel restrictions will likely be gradual and the Biden Administration’s “multi-layered” approach means that redundant measures (vaccination plus testing, for example) will likely remain in place for quite some time.
It is hardly surprising that airlines would act in their own self-interest in order promote favorable public policy. However, my sense is that airlines will have to wait for several months, at a minimum, before receiving their wishes.
image: Airlines For America