(Bloomberg) — A coalition of international airline and aviation groups is calling on U.S. government leaders to help set Covid-19 testing protocols to assuage passenger concerns and boost severely depressed international travel.
In a letter to three cabinet secretaries signed by 18 groups, they call on the government to set up “a globally accepted framework for testing protocols for international travel.” The plea comes as the U.S. and U.K. are discussing virus protections aimed at reopening travel between the two countries.
Traffic on most international routes has fallen dramatically since the pandemic emerged across the world in March.
“Coordinated and deliberate action must be taken to safely reopen the international travel market,” the letter said. “A collaborative approach between governments and industry will help to ensure the development of standardized measures that promote needed consistency across the aviation system.”
The industry groups, which include the trade association for major U.S. carriers, Airlines for America, acknowledged that the issue of Covid-19 testing is complex and, at times, controversial. But the groups said that is all the more reason for the government to become involved to help evaluate the protocols and their potential value.
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Several airports and airlines are already working on establishing special procedures that would establish a so-called “airbridge” between specific points.
U.S. and U.K. officials are talking about setting coronavirus protocols that would allow limited travel to resume between the two countries, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said.
U.S. agencies that oversee health, aviation, transportation and security are involved in the talks, the TSA said.
Four airline and airport groups from the two nations wrote to U.S. and U.K. officials on Aug. 28 urging the governments to work together.
The U.S. government in July published guidelines for safe travel during the pandemic called Runway to Recovery, but has so far declined to establish rules for virus-related safety on airline flights. It has also spurned repeated requests by the industry for actions such as using airport security agents to conduct temperature screening of passengers.
President Donald Trump has in recent months said he generally doesn’t favor additional testing.
The letter from the industry groups was sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
Other groups signing the letter include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Aerospace Industries Association and the International Air Transport Association.
(Updates with U.S.-U.K. talks from second paragraph.)
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