LONDON – Pre-departure COVID-19 tests in the United States could be phased out in a matter of weeks, according to those in the airline industry.
Speaking to analysts during a meeting on April 13, Delta’s President Glen Hauenstein said that Washington may roll them back:
“We are hearing good things from Washington”.
“Hopefully that [the testing requirement] gets rolled back in the next few weeks.”
The company’s chief legal officer also said that strong indications are near:
“We are getting a strong indication that pre-departure testing will be phased out in the near future, which is quite encouraging.”
What is the U.S Pre-Departure Test?
For vaccinated travelers, those traveling into the U.S need to take a COVID-19 test within one day of their journey.
Most unvaccinated travelers are banned from entering the United States, so you only see the benefits if you are vaccinated with a CDC-approved vaccine.
Whilst the CDC hasn’t confirmed the removal of the tests, the indication from the airline sector does highlight this could happen very shortly.
The CDC said the following in a statement to Euronews Travel:
“We are always reviewing our guidance and new science that becomes available”.
Removing The Tests Would Be Beneficial To The Sector…
Removing the requirements for such testing would be beneficial to the sector, as it would encourage more people, particularly those who are unvaccinated, to travel.
American travel to Europe is set to soar by 600% during the Summer 2022 campaign, offering the view that this would be better enabled through such scrapped testing measures.
California congressman Lou Correa expanded more on this:
“Travellers are scared of being stranded abroad and having their vacation plans wrecked, which is preventing the revival of our domestic travel and tourism industries”.
“It is past time for our testing criteria to be brought into line with those used by other countries.”
Could Scrapping The Tests Exacerbate The Supply Issue With Pilots?
It could be suggested that if the U.S Government makes the decision to scrap the pre-departure tests, then the floodgates could open for the wrong reasons.
Many carriers in the United States are struggling with a pilot shortage, and have gone as far as offering signing-up bonuses to solve their own individual crises.
If the restrictions are eased, then the supply may not be able to deal with the capacity, which is already scarce as a result of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is definitely something that has to be thought about, especially if it means that there is a prospect of collapse within the U.S airline industry.
The scrapping of pre-departure tests in the U.S is most definitely a good sign that things are improving, but this may come at the cost of a different problem being faced.
What remains clear is that the border openings need to be carefully planned, and need to align with the shortages that the country is dealing with at the moment.
If you open it all up at the same time, then it will be to the detriment of the passenger through canceled flights, long lines in immigration, and more.
All eyes, therefore, will be on the U.S Government in how they can effectively sort this issue out sufficiently.