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Airlines and other tourism-related businesses are pushing the White House to develop a plan within the next five weeks to boost international travel and remove restrictions that were imposed at the start of the pandemic.

More than two dozen groups made their requests in a letter to the White House on Monday.

They want people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to be exempt from testing requirements before entering the United States. They also want the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to declare that vaccinated people can travel safely.

The groups say these and other measures will accelerate the recovery of the travel and air transport industries, which were devastated by a drop in travel during the pandemic.

Air travel to the United States is already resuming. More than a million people have passed through checkpoints at U.S. airports in the past 11 days, with Sunday’s total surpassing 1.5 million for the first time in more than a year. Passenger traffic is however still below 2019 levels.

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Organizations calling for the relaxation of international restrictions include the largest trading group of the nation’s largest carriers, Airlines for America, the US Travel Association, and the US Chamber of Commerce. They set a target on May 1 for the government to partner with us on a plan to repeal the one-year restrictions on international travel.

The groups cited the recent drop in new reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. Nearly 45 million Americans, or more than 13% of the population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CDC figures.

Now is the time to plan and chart a definite roadmap to reopen international travel, they wrote in a letter to White House virus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients.

The White House did not comment, but referred to remarks by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday. Walensky said the health agency was working on new directions for those vaccinated, but expressed concern about the recent increase in new coronavirus cases reported in many European countries.

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If we look at our European friends, we just don’t want to be faced with this rapid increase in cases again, and it is very possible that it will happen, she said. We are so close to vaccinating so many more people … Now is not the time to travel.

The airline industry is hoping to see the lifting of the broad restrictions on travel between the United States and Europe, China and other regions that former President Donald Trump imposed last spring to curb the spread of the virus. Most non-US citizens who have been in Europe are prohibited from entering the country.

Airlines have pressured the Biden administration to play a leading role in developing standards for so-called vaccine passports that would allow people to travel freely if they are vaccinated and take a test. testing for COVID-19. The European Union offered a digital health certificate last week, but the US administration objected, saying it was up to the private sector.

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In the past year, the federal government approved $ 65 billion to help airlines cover most of their payroll costs in return for keeping workers employed, along with billions more in the form of low interest rate loans. Most recently, President Joe Biden signed a $ 1.9 trillion relief plan, including $ 15 billion for airlines.

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Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter / airlineswriter

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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