Test Domestic Passengers? Bad Idea, Say the Airlines

The CDC is 'actively looking at' such a rule
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2021 11:01 AM CST
Airlines Aren't Fans of Idea to Test All Passengers
A Southwest Airlines jet lands at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, Calif., in 2019.   (AP Photo/Matt Hartman, File)

Health officials in the Biden administration have floated the idea of requiring passengers on domestic flights to show proof of a negative COVID test. On Thursday, executives of major airlines made clear they hate the idea. "A mistake" and a "real goat rodeo" were two of the quotes from Southwest Airlines execs rounded up by USA Today. JetBlue's president suggested it would "reduce the ability to some people who legitimately need to get [tested] for health reasons," per ABC News. And the CEO of American Airlines worried that "it would have us testing Americans on airplanes that we all know are safe to be on." All were asked about the idea by Wall Street analysts and journalists during their earnings calls after a CDC official said earlier in the week that the agency is "actively looking at it," notes Reuters.

The proposed rule would expand on a new restriction that went into effect this week. Almost everyone flying into the US from abroad must now provide proof of a negative test taken no longer than three days before their flight. The airlines are cooperating with that one, but they say the logistics of making sure all domestic passengers can similarly comply is too daunting. "We don't have adequate testing capacity for the country in the first place," says Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, per ABC. "It's just unrealistic to expect that we can efficiently and effectively do testing on a larger scale." The airlines are worried that such a rule would curb already waning demand, though Dr. Anthony Fauci, for one, doesn't sound too sympathetic to that argument. For even those who've been vaccinated, "it is not a good idea to travel, period," he said during a CNN town hall. (Read more airlines stories.)

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