Major airlines and business groups are asking the Biden administration to develop temporary credentials that allow travelers to demonstrate that they have been screened and vaccinated against COVID-19, a step the airline industry believes will help jump-start travel. .
Several groups and countries are working on the development of so-called vaccine passports designed to allow more travel. But airlines fear a handful of regional credentials will cause confusion, and none will be widely accepted.
“Establishing a uniform guide is crucial” and “America must be a leader in this development,” more than two dozen groups said in a letter Monday to the White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients. However, the groups said vaccination should not be a requirement for domestic or international travel.
The groups include major US and international airline trade organizations, airline unions and the US Chamber of Commerce.The White House did not immediately comment.
The World Health Organization and the aviation arm of the United Nations are working on the type of information that should be included in a credential. Airline industry groups are particularly keen for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take a leadership role, as they believe that would increase the certainty that the information in the credentials is legitimate.
The CDC issued new guidelines Monday for fully vaccinated people, saying they can, without face masks, meet other vaccinated people and visit unvaccinated people in a single household who are at low risk of serious illness. However, the health agency still recommends against traveling.
“Every time there is an increase in travel, we have an increase in cases in this country,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
Walensky noted that many variants of COVID-19 now spreading in the US started in other countries. Still, he held out the possibility that, with more data, the CDC would soon approve travel by vaccinated people.
Airlines have been particularly affected by the pandemic. Despite a partial recovery, US airlines continue to lose $ 150 million a day, according to the Airlines for America trade group.
In the US, the number of people passing through airports continues to drop by nearly 60% so far this year compared to 2019, the last normal year before the pandemic. Most of those people fly within the United States.
Airlines have widespread vaccinations to fuel travel and vaccine passports to fuel highly lucrative international flights.