Airlines press US for refusal to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions
Major airlines are pressuring the US government over its decision not to act quickly to ease COVID-19 restrictions that are blocking travelers who have traveled to much of Europe and elsewhere then as other countries have started to relax bans.
On Monday, executives of several major airlines as well as CEOs of Heathrow Airport and the US Travel Association industry group will hold a virtual press conference to lobby for the removal of interstate travel restrictions. United and the United Kingdom. In attendance will be the CEOs of American Airlines (AAL.O), IAG Unit (ICAG.L) British Airways, Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines (UAL.O) and JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU. O).
On May 11, airline CEOs called for a summit between US officials, UK officials and airlines to discuss how to “quickly reopen transatlantic travel.”
As of March 2020, the US has banned almost all non-US citizens who have been in the UK in the past 14 days from entering the country. Most US travelers visiting the UK are required to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
Airline and administration officials say no changes are expected in the near term, but add that the restrictions may be lifted as early as July 4 or so, but they warn that ‘no decision has been made.
France said on Friday that Americans vaccinated from June 9 will be able to travel to the country. United has said it will resume flights to Paris from Washington in July and Delta has said it is also adding flights to France.
At a press conference at Washington National Airport on Friday, American Airlines (AAL.O) President Robert Isom said, “We know there is a huge pent-up demand for service.”
Isom said the airline had “a lot of capacity to be ready to go” for travel to Europe. When asked if July 4th would be too late for summer travel to Europe, Isom said, “We’ll take him when he comes.”
Airlines officials had hoped earlier that in late May the United States would have lifted travel restrictions in the UK and Ireland, where new cases of COVID-19 have plummeted. (See graphic, Global Immunization Monitoring: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/)
Travel restrictions also apply to most non-US citizens in Brazil, South Africa, India, and Iran.
The Biden administration held an appeal with British officials on Thursday, people briefed on the matter said, but the White House has given no indication that it plans to lift the restrictions.
The White House, which is focused on increasing vaccination rates in the United States and reducing COVID-19 cases, declined to comment on Friday.
President Joe Biden is sure to face questions on the matter from foreign leaders during his trip to Europe next week.
“We certainly understand the desire of many Europeans to come and travel to the United States and vice versa,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on May 21. “We cannot respond to public pressure or even emotion. We must rely on the advice. Of our medical and health experts.”
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.