Proposed Covid-19 passenger testing to revive US-EU air travel

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In a letter major US and European airlines push for coronavirus passenger testing to allow the travel between the two continents to resume. The US-EU market is the most profitable for airlines.

“Given the unquestioned importance of trans-Atlantic 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,” stated the letter released on July 21 and addressed to the US Vice President Mike Pence and to the European commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson.

The German Lufthansa Airlines, their Star Alliance business partner United Airlines, along with American Airlines and the European British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia owned by International Airlines Group (IAG) sent the official letter to ask for passengers testing on both side of the pond. If passengers test positive for Covid-19 simply they will not be allowed to travel. If they test negative the suggestion is they do not have to self quarantine.

“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,” read the letter.

At this stage traveling between the US and Europe in both directions is largely restricted. Following the European Union (EU) recommendation from July 1 traveling from countries listed in the recommendation was a first step toward reopening the EU destinations. Passengers coming from countries listed in the recommendation can enter the EU. The list is based on Covind-19 infection rates. At present, many EU continues continue to restrict the entry of US resident for non-essential travel. Ireland and the UK still impose a 14-day self quarantine upon entry.

“Nobody will benefit from a prolonged closure of this most indispensable corridor for global aviation.” the letter said.

Surprisingly, the third largest US carrier Delta Airlines and their alliance partners Air France and KLM did not sign the letter.

Testing sounds easier said then done. The airlines’ letter did not specify if travelers have to show up at the airport proving a negative test, or they have to undergo testing at their arrival destination.

On the other hand, airports already are taking first steps in this direction. For example, the UK Heathrow Airport is taking the lead by offering a 24-hour COVID-19 testing upon arrival. Only if passenger test negative they are exempt from the 14-day self quarantine.

Other airports in Europe that currently offer testing sites:

Dusseldorf Airport (Germany) where tests are free free for EU residents arriving from countries with high-risk
Frankfurt International Airport (Germany) . Tests are not free.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris-Orly Airport. Tests in France are mandatory for travelers arriving from the list of high-risk countries named by the EU including the US.
Keflavik International Airport (Iceland) The test will cost between 60 and 70 Euros.
Vienna International Airport (Austria) In Vienna the test might cost up to tests cost 190 Euros
Sheremetyevo International Airport (Russia)

In the US only the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska currently offers testing.

Traveling admits the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a topic of concerns for many travelers and matter of survival for airlines. The pandemic has changed the way we to travel. New safety measures and implementations will continue to roll out to make us safer.

If you need to travel check with your airline website for travel updates and details. Visit official government websites for more information, and be prepared to wear a mask for your entire trip.

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Ian Powers is a travel blogger and nature enthusiast. Ian has over 20 years of aviation travel experience.

2 Responses

  1. Dessi Ivanova

    I support the idea of speed CCP virus tests at the airports, but this is time consuming and will cause crowding. Unless it’s very well organized.
    On the other hand there is a screaming need of resuming the US- EU travel.

  2. Ian Powers

    Certainly, passenger screening poses challenges and questions. It will require concerted efforts on the part of airlines and airports worldwide if we are to beat the virus in its game.

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