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Airline Group Signs Letter Calling For Europe-US COVID Test-Sharing To Save Industry

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In a move to save the travel industry, four major airlines signed an open letter Tuesday calling for a shared COVID-19 testing program between the United States and European Union.

As the pandemic continues to keep most airlines on the ground, American Airlines, Lufthansa, United Airlines and International Airlines Group warned leaders on both sides of the Atlantic in a press release that “nobody will benefit” from the continued slowdown of travel between the two continents.

Writing to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, the four companies’ CEOs asked the leaders to “consider adopting a joint U.S.-EU COVID-19 testing program to enhance safety and build confidence in critical transatlantic passenger air services.”

The letter added that a “coordinated COVID-19 testing program could be key to providing confidence to permit services to resume without quarantine requirements or other entry restrictions.” The companies claimed the proposed program would give both sides a greater ability to screen passengers and reduce the fear of another spike in cases.

The pandemic has virtually stopped travel between the two continents. Americans traveling to the United Kingdom must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival, while the U.S has essentially barred British and European residents from traveling to the country. Furthermore, the E.U. does not include the U.S on the list of countries permitted to travel to the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 countries.

The International Air Travel Association estimates 7.5 million flights have been canceled globally between January and June of this year, with over $419 billion in revenue losses. United Airlines recently announced over $1.6 billion in losses during its second quarter, along with an 87.8 percent drop in year-over-year capacity.

“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 added.

The letter was written “with urgency” and did not include the CEOs of Delta Air Lines or Virgin Atlantic, two other major transatlantic carriers.

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