Covid-19: major airlines call for joint US-EU testing scheme
The CEOs of four international airlines have urged the US and EU to support a standardised Covid-19 testing programme in order to reopen the door for travel across the Atlantic.
The heads of International Airlines Group (which owns British Airways and Iberia), Lufthansa, United Airlines and American Airlines co-signed a letter that was sent to US Vice President Mike Pence and EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson.
“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,” the letter stated.
Currently, people in the US are prohibited from entering the EU, and vice-versa, except under special circumstances.
The airline chiefs are suggesting that a rigorous and combined testing programme would be able to break the travel ban, which is seeing airlines take a huge financial hit.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines globally will lose up to $84 billion in 2020, and a further $15 billion next year.
"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," the letter stated.
The European Commission published a list of 15 non-EU countries on July 1 that would no longer be subject to restrictions on non-essential travel into EU countries, with the list set to be reviewed every two weeks. The US was not included on the list.
On July 15, Serbia and Montenegro were removed from its approved list of third-countries (outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland, and the UK during the transition period) deemed safe with regard to the Covid-19 epidemic – and no new countries were added.
According to Schengenvisainfo, a website giving information on travel to Europe, “travel from the United States was not even part of the discussions, mainly due to the sharply increasing number of Coronavirus cases all across the US.”
Read more about how Covid-19 is affecting travel:
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