Airlines ask White House replace travel restrictions with COVID-19 testing

Essentially all Europe-to-U.S. air travel has been restricted since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Updated: January 5, 2021 - 4:12pm

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A major lobby group for the U.S. airline industry is asking the Trump administration to ease travel restrictions for those who want to travel to the U.S. and participate in mandatory testing for COVID-19.

The group, Airlines for America, sent a letter Monday to Vice President Mike Pence expressing support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's proposed global testing program, according to The Hill. Additionally, the trade group is calling on the White House to lift travel restrictions on travelers coming from Brazil, Europe and the United Kingdom.

"These entry restrictions should be removed concurrently with the testing program, which will provide yet another layer of safety in the travel journey," A4A CEO Nicholas Calio said in the letter.

Travelers from Europe and several other foreign places have not been permitted to travel to the United States since March, with the exception of returning U.S. citizens.

The group also requested a 14-day implementation period to allow for communication to customers and staff throughout the world.

"Given the scope of this requirement, we would appreciate the government’s consideration of making rapid testing available for this effort," Calio said. "Special consideration for unique circumstances such as connecting passengers and U.S. citizens on short round trip journeys need to be factored into the plan as well so as not to discourage travel and the benefits of increased testing."

Restrictions to both travel and capacity have reduced the quantity of travelers over the course of the past year and airlines have had to resort to taking federal coronavirus relief packages as a result of the economic slump.