an airport terminal with check-in counters
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

End Pre-Departure Testing, Leaders of Airlines Urge Once Again

International travelers still must be tested for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus before entering the United States.

Senior leaders from both Airlines for America and U.S. Travel Association had a meeting at the White House on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at which they once again stressed the need for the administration to end the pre-departure testing requirement for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus for travelers who are fully vaccinated.

End Pre-Departure Testing, Leaders of Airlines Urge Once Again

After the meeting, the following official statement was issued from Airlines for America:

A4A appreciated the opportunity to reiterate our call for the Administration to eliminate the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated travelers, which is no longer aligned with the current epidemiological environment. For months, our industry has urged Washington to sunset this pandemic-era policy, which continues to harm our nation’s economy and hinder air travel to the U.S.

“Science has shown time and time again that the pre-departure testing requirement is not effective and is not stopping or even slowing the spread of COVID. Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the U.S.,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.

A recent survey of A4A’s member airlines concluded carriers would see an additional 4.3 million international passengers if the inbound pre-departure testing requirement were to be lifted. Instead, these millions of people are traveling and spending their money to vacation or do business in other countries—countries which have lifted testing requirements for vaccinated travelers, as supported by research.

“Despite the countless studies affirming that the hospital-grade air onboard aircraft is some of the cleanest available and the significant increase in vaccination rates, the Administration continues to hold air travel to a standard different than land border crossings,” added Calio.

“Across the country, states that rely on travel and tourism to support their local economies are paying the price. There is simply no scientific justification for maintaining the pre-departure testing requirement,” Calio continued. “It is past time for the U.S. to catch up with the rest of the globe, follow the science and eliminate this pandemic-era barrier to air travel.”

A reporter asked Karine Jean-Pierre — who is the current press secretary for the White House — at the press briefing on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 if the administration was considering ending that requirement for testing of the 2022 Novel Coronavirus for international travelers.

“So, we’re constantly evaluating our policy”, Karine Jean-Pierre responded, as shown in this official video. “The pre-departure testing requirement remains in place, as we have it today. And any decision on pre-departure testing requirement would be made by our health and medical experts.”

The reporter asked, “Is there a sense of how long that could and should remain in place at this point and what purpose it’s serving right now?  The people in the United States can travel freely without any sort of testing.”

“I mean, I don’t”, said Jean-Pierre. “It’s in constant — constant evaluation, as I just laid out. I don’t have anything more to share from here.”

Greater than 260 entities — which include airlines, airport authorities multinational lodging companies, cruise lines, national associations, convention and visitors bureaus, and companies — had sent a joint open letter to the coronavirus response coordinator of The White House last month asking for the requirement of testing inbound international passengers who have been fully vaccinated to be terminated as soon as possible.

Airlines for America is a trade group which represents the commercial aviation industry in the United States; while U.S. Travel Association is the national non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs in the year 2020. The mission of U.S. Travel Association is to increase travel to and within the United States.

Final Boarding Call

At least 63 countries and territories around the world no longer require testing for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — nor do they require quarantine or isolation — regardless of the vaccination status of inbound international passengers. That list had increased by 14 countries and territories from 49 within the past month alone.

As the pandemic appears to be phasing into endemic status, the United States should be one of those countries. The time to expeditiously terminate the inbound testing requirement for all international air travelers is long overdue, in my opinion.

Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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