US aviation and travel groups urge Biden to help boost travel

Airline unions and travel groups want temporary COVID health credentials covering tests, vaccinations to enable travel.

US airlines carried an average of more than 1 million passengers a day in the past week [File: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg]

Major aviation, travel and aerospace groups in the United States have joined airline unions in urging the Biden administration to help establish temporary COVID-19 health credentials to boost travel, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter on Monday to the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, trade group Airlines for America, the US Chamber of Commerce, the US Travel Association and 24 other groups urged the administration to work with industry to “quickly develop uniform, targeted federal guidance for temporary COVID-19 health credentials (CHC) covering both tests and vaccinations.”

The groups also said: “COVID-19 vaccines should not be a requirement for domestic or international travel.”

The World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization “are working closely to identify the necessary information that would be contained in a medical record and a travel document,” the letter noted, asking the administration “to proactively develop a roadmap for the rollout of recommended travel documentations and build a system supporting CHCs that verify both testing and vaccination records.”

The groups added that the credentials could “encourage more widespread adoption of processes to verify testing and vaccination records, from sports arenas to restaurants, business meetings, theme parks, and more”.

The White House did not immediately comment.

‘Restrain travel’

The push came as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday said tens of millions of Americans who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 should not travel, a blow to the airline and travel industries that have been battered by the pandemic.

“We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters, saying the agency has not changed its guidance that all Americans should avoid travel. “Every time we have a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” she said.

Many Americans are not heeding the CDC’s advice.

US airlines carried an average of more than one million passengers a day in the past week, the highest non-holiday total since the pandemic began gutting travel demand in the country almost a year ago.

Sunday’s total of 1.28 million was the third-highest since travel collapsed in mid-March 2020, according to data reported by the Transportation Security Administration. The only equivalent periods with that many fliers since March 17, 2020, have been during the traditionally busy Thanksgiving and Christmas periods.

The Biden administration has taken steps to reduce international travel and mandated masks on nearly all forms of public transport.

Source: News Agencies