Executives from major US and European airlines are calling for officials in both regions to create a joint US-EU COVID-19 testing program to help boost confidence in transatlantic travel. 

A letter, signed by the CEOs of United Airlines, American Airlines and Lufthansa, as well as the CEO of the International Airlines Group, calls on the US and European Union to launch the program in order to start the “safe and swift restoration of air travel” between the regions. The letter is addressed to the US vice president, Mike Pence, and the EU’s commissioner of home affairs, Ylva Johansson.

The letter states that such a program could boost confidence in traveling between the US and Europe without the need for quarantine periods or other entry restrictions. “COVID-19 testing is becoming more and more common throughout the world as a tool to avoid these other more intrusive measures”. While it notes that testing presents a number of challenges, “nobody will benefit from a prolonged closure of this most indispensable corridor for global aviation”. 

Most airlines have brought in some new measures during the pandemic to curb the spread of the virus, such as requiring masks. Lufthansa introduced the ability to test passengers for COVID-19 before departing from or arriving at the airline’s hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, allowing travellers who test negative to bypass quarantine in countries where PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are accepted.

While a testing program might boost some confidence in travel, the difference in infection rates between the US and regions of Europe has currently led to strict  travel restrictions. Right now, the EU has advised member states to not allow US travelers into its member countries due to the rising cases in the US. However, this is only a recommendation and while most countries have instituted the policy, Croatia is currently accepting international travelers, including those from the US.

Lockdowns are easing globally as the planet adjusts to a new normal. Find out how COVID-19 is changing travel.

Read more: 

The world’s message to US travelers: go home
Are you ready to give up traveler privacy to fight the coronavirus?
What it’s like to fly in Europe right now

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