Home News Groups urge U.S. to help develop Covid-testing protocols for air travel

By Robert Silk Sept 10, 2020

A Covid-19 test conducted at Lufthansa's Frankfurt Airport testing center.

A Covid-19 test conducted at Lufthansa’s Frankfurt Airport testing center. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Lufthansa Group

A coalition of 18 travel trade organizations is calling for the U.S. government to work toward the establishment of globally accepted protocols for Covid-19 testing for international air travel.

Such a framework, the organizations said in a letter Wednesday to the heads of the Transportation Department, Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, is key to the reopening of international travel markets. 

“A critical step in this process is to begin a limited testing pilot project between the U.S. and either Europe, Canada or the Pacific that would provide a basis for evaluating the protocols or efficacy of such a program,” the letter said.

“There are several airports and airlines working on potential “bubbles” or “airbridge” concepts today. We ask the U.S. government to partner with industry to pilot these collaborative models, identify successful protocols, and chart a path forward.”

ASTA, the U.S. Travel Association, IATA, Airlines for America, the Global Business Travel Association and Airlines Council International – North America are among the trade groups that signed onto the letter.

The letter expands upon earlier efforts by airlines to encourage the U.S. and EU to work together on a pilot testing program. Carriers have argued that proper testing could replace border closures and quarantines.

Numerous countries have already put testing requirements in place either ahead entry or immediately after entry, the trade groups said.

The organizations said that in developing testing protocols it will be key for the U.S. and partner countries to consider cost, the speed of receiving results, the validity period of the test results, the accuracy of the tests and the risk threshold that would be tolerable. Testing protocols must also be privacy-based and fit into airline and airport operations to the greatest extend possible.

“The aviation community stands ready to work with the U.S. government on implementation of testing pilot protocols so that we can restore the economic vitality of air transportation system by making it operational,” the letter reads.