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Airlines Join Voices Calling For US-UK COVID-19 Testing Plan

Airlines Join Voices Calling For US-UK COVID-19 Testing Plan
Joe Cortez

After airports and lawmakers called for the United States and United Kingdom to work together and offer COVID-19 testing on arrival, now airlines are asking the governments to come up with a plan to open skies. A letter sent to transportation officials co-signed by Airlines for America and other stakeholders spelled out their demands to invigorate travel options.

Airlines are once again asking for American and British transportation authorities to work together to offer COVID-19 testing for passengers flying between London and New York, joining the many voices asking for travel corridors to open. Reuters reports several aviation stakeholders have signed on to a letter sent to both governments, asking for a new way to move forward and open borders.

Virgin Atlantic Joins Airline Organizations to Demand Changes

The letter was signed by the leaders of four major aviation organizations: Airlines for America, Airlines UK, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Virgin Atlantic. Their letter calls for a plan to offer testing to passengers upon arrival, which would potentially end the need for a two-week quarantine requirement.

“We believe that in the immediate absence of a vaccine, testing of passengers in aviation provides the best and most effective frontline defense,” the letter states, according to Reuters. It continued to ask both governments to “gather real world evidence and data” to create a risk-based solution.

The latest call to determine a path forward despite the COVID-19 pandemic comes as the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) released their latest numbers. International travel demand once again dropped over 90 percent compared to August 2019, with available seat kilometers and revenue per seat-kilometer down to equal lows.

In a statement to Reuters about the letter, the U.S. Department of Transportation noted that “Conversations are ongoing between the federal government, international partners, and industry stakeholders on these matters.” However, they did not elaborate on what those talks consisted of, and if an actual solution was in the works.

Despite the pressure coming from all sides, there’s not much optimism that a plan to open borders is in the works. Earlier in August 2020, both the White House and U.S.-based airlines both walked away from a plan to offer contact tracing, which could have potentially helped control the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

Airlines, Airports and Lawmakers All Call for On-Arrival Testing

The letter from the aviation stakeholders is just the latest round of pleas from travel stakeholders to figure out how to help the industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. After London Heathrow Airport put forward a testing plan with airport service partners, other airlines and even lawmakers have asked for the governments to work together to end the need for quarantines.

View Comments (3)


  1. Lakeviewsteve

    September 4, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Why not test them before they board a long haul flight? The risk of being barred from entry and being forced to leave a country is terrible.

  2. edgewood49

    September 5, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    All of these plans are fraught with holes and unknowns. All it takes is one weak link and off we go with another spread, Not trying to be a “debbie downer” but the resurgence is proving that nothing is safe until there is an effective vaccine, widely dispersed throughout the world and even then who knows. It was interesting a poll showed 65% of Americans said they more than likely would not take the first round of vaccine, not trusting the rush to market and frankly I am not sure would either

  3. carlosdca


    September 8, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Any kind of testing protocols in place will be better than no testing at all.
    What will happen is that airlines/agencies/governments won’t agree to testing protocols so they will start flying with no testing at all at some point. No bueno

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