American, British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, and United have teamed up to call for coordinated COVID-19 testing as the path to end European Union and USA travel bans and restore transatlantic traffic.
Airlines: Testing Will Lead To Safe Re-Opening Of Air Travel
In a letter sent to European Commissioner for Home Affairs Tiva Johansson and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, the airlines propose a joint U.S. – EU COVID-19 testing program to restore confidence and resume air travel.
Although exceptions exist, most Europeans are banned from traveling to the USA and most U.S. residents are banned from traveling to the European Union.
Without a vaccine, the only realistic option to scaling up travel is the use of accurate, rapid, widespread testing. Thus far, each nation has taken a piecemeal approach to testing. Under the proposal, the EU and USA would work together on a coordinated approach that would take out many of the risk points for virus transmission.
Full Letter To U.S. And European Leaders
The letter was signed by:
- Scott Kirby – United Airlines CEO
- Doug Parker American Airlines CEO
- Carsten Spohr -Lufthansa CEO
- Willie Walsh – IAG CEO [British Airways + Iberia]
Here is the letter in full:
As the leading airline groups in Europe and the United States, 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. We urge you to consider adopting a joint U.S. – EU COVID-19 testing program to enhance safety and build confidence in critical transatlantic passenger air services.
The response to this crisis continues to require the cooperation of governments, citizens and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. Regarding passenger airline travel, we appreciate the leadership of aviation safety and health bodies within U.S. and EU institutions in issuing comprehensive guidelines to maximize the safety and health of passengers, crews and personnel at each step of the travel journey. These guidelines have much in common and form a solid basis on which to restart transatlantic travel safely. Many airlines and airports have also taken significant steps to protect passenger and employee health that often go beyond the government guidelines.
Given the unquestioned importance of transatlantic 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 U.S. and Europe. In addition to all the significant and unprecedented actions that governments and airlines are taking to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, a coordinated COVID-19 testing program could be key to providing confidence to permit services to resume without quarantine requirements or other entry restrictions. COVID-19 testing is becoming more and more common throughout the world as a tool to avoid these other more intrusive measures. We recognize that testing presents a number of challenges, however, we believe that a pilot testing program for the transatlantic market could be an excellent opportunity for government and industry to work together and find ways to overcome obstacles and explore all solutions to protect health, build confidence, and safely restore passenger travel between the U.S. and Europe.
Nobody will benefit from a prolonged closure of this most indispensable corridor for global aviation.
In theory, a unified testing protocol makes perfect sense. But can the EU and USA work together in a timely fashion to institute such a program? That’s an open question. Perhaps both governments can look to Turkey, which seems to have pioneered exactly the sort of solution needed to re-open travel to the masses.