Airlines and Travel Groups Urge U.S. to Develop Virus Passport

U.S. airlines, joined by travel groups and labor, urged the Biden administration to take the lead in developing standards for temporary Covid-19 health credentials that would help reopen global travel by documenting vaccinations and test results.

The U.S. “must be a leader” in efforts already underway in other regions to implement such travel passports, groups including Airlines for America said in a letter Monday to Jeffrey Zients, the head of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 recovery team. It’s essential for the government to partner with carriers and the travel industry “to quickly develop” standards, they said.

Increasing numbers of vaccinations and slowing rates of disease in many countries are expected to trigger a surge in travel after many consumers spent a year staying close to home to avoid contracting coronavirus. Covid-19 Health Certificates, or CHCs, are seen as essential to reopening many nations that have imposed quarantines or other restrictions on travelers from other countries. The U.S. currently requires a negative Covid-19 test for those entering the country by airplane.

“The current diverse and fragmented digital health credentials used to implement different countries’ air travel testing requirements risk causing confusion, reducing compliance and increasing fraud,” the groups said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help lead the global discussion, increasing certainty that test results are legitimate, prioritizing passenger privacy, improving operational efficiency for the aviation industry ecosystem, and strengthening protections against importation of the virus.”

Members of the European Union also face increasing pressure from voters and businesses for a road map to end lockdowns and restrictions. The European Commission will unveil a proposal this month for a “Digital Green Pass” that will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19, or has received a negative test.

Such documentation also could be used eventually at sports arenas, theme parks, business meetings and restaurants, according to the letter, which was signed by 27 groups, including the Air Traffic Control Association, the Global Business Travel Association, Airports Council International-North America, the Allied Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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