A number of US airline executives have come out against the introduction of a negative Covid-19 test as a prerequisite for domestic flights. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirement came into effect this week making negative tests mandatory for all inbound passengers, but there are currently no plans to widen the restriction to include domestic passengers.
Desapite broadly supporting the CDC’s new measure, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said it has impacted international demand, especially short-haul travel from Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada.
“We support international testing, because that’s about getting more people to be comfortable flying across borders,” Parker said. “We are hopeful that doing so allows [President Joe Biden’s] administration to get more comfortable with airlines and be open to allowing more people to travel to the United States at some point.”
However, Reuters reported that a CDC official said that the Biden administration is “actively looking” at expanding the requirement to include testing before domestic flights, which prompted Kelly and other executives, including Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, to say they haven’t heard from regulators about that possibility. If they were to introduce it, Kelly said, it would be difficult to implement.
“I would just make the argument: Why pick on air travel?” Kelly said. “If you want to test people, test them, but test them before they go to the grocery store. Test them before they go to a restaurant. Test them before they go to a sporting event.”
JetBlue president and COO Joanna Geraghty said making tests a prerequisite for domestic travel was “far too cumbersome.”
“Frankly, we’re concerned that it would actually reduce the ability of some people who legitimately need to get tested for health reasons to get tested,” Geraghty said.