Airline industry officials and lawmakers say the federal government’s mandatory COVID-19 testing for vaccinated international passengers is costing the sector billions of dollars in revenue each month and continue to ask the Biden administration to drop the requirement.
Many other countries have dropped such requirements, according to The Hill newspaper. And industry leaders argue the policy does not match the threat posed by the virus, whose numbers have dropped as a result of vaccinations and natural immunity.
The United States’ testing requirement has been in place since January 2021.
"Amending international travel restrictions is necessary," Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott said at a Senate hearing Tuesday. "We have heard from industry leaders. … to better understand how Congress can be helpful and when we need to get the federal government out of the way."
Though domestic travel has rebounded from pandemic lows, international travel to the U.S. has been slower to recover.
Industry officials told lawmakers Tuesday that testing requirement is the biggest reason for the slow recovery for international flight travel.
“The testing requirement is impacting people’s willingness to travel and puts the U.S. at risk of falling behind other countries,” said Suzanne Neufang, the CEO of the Global Business Travel Association, The Hill also reports.
The U.S. does not require vaccinated international travelers entering the country via land to submit pre-departure testing results.
Travel industry officials met in late May with White House officials about the testing requirements, but the Biden administration so far has not lifted the requirement.