WASHINGTON D.C.: The U.S. airline industry is pressuring the Biden administration to lift a 16-month-old regulation requiring a negative COVID-19 test for nearly all international air passengers entering the country, with some exceptions.
International U.S. air travel remains down about 15 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
According to airline executives, because of concerns they will test positive in a foreign country and then be stranded abroad, many Americans are not traveling internationally.
Last week, industry group Airlines for America said, according to a survey it conducted, U.S. airlines predict that dropping testing rules would create an additional 4.3 million international passengers and $1.7 billion in incremental revenue, as well as an additional 1.075 million foreign visitors and $2.1 billion in tourist spending.
In a report by Crain's Chicago Business last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said lifting the restrictions would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be confident that "relaxing it would not harm the progress that we've made against the virus," but he did not think pre-departure rules "will be there forever."
Many other countries have eliminated pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated travelers, including the UK, Germany and Canada.