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Airline Executives Reject Proposed Domestic Test Mandate

Travel industry leaders say a possible CDC move to require testing on domestic flights would be “quite unworkable”

by Business Traveler

February 2, 2021

Executives at the top of major US airlines are voicing opposition to a potential mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would require COVID-19 testing for domestic air travel. 


The CDC proposal was floated last week by Dr. Marty Cetron, CDC director for global migration and quarantine, who said the Biden administration was “actively looking” at that requirement. 


During JetBlue’s earnings call, the carrier’s president Joanna Geraghty said such a requirement would “put a ton of pressure on an already fragile system, and 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.” 


On the American Airlines call with analysists, CEO Doug Parker said such a mandate would have the carriers testing people to get on airplanes “that we all know are safe to be on.” 


And Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said on that airline’s call that the focus should be on the continued rollout of the vaccines. “Why pick on air travel?” Kelly asked.


The US Travel Association strongly objected to the idea of requiring domestic travelers to be tested. Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy, said the high cost and low availability of testing in parts of the country “would make it quite unworkable.”