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Airlines pressure US on refusal to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions By Reuters

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Airlines pressure US on refusal to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Travelers wearing protective masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) claim their luggage at the Denver airport, Colorado, USA, November 24, 2020. REUTERS / Kevin Mohatt

By David Shepardson

ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) – Major airlines are lobbying the United States government over its decision not to act quickly to relax COVID-19 restrictions that block travelers who have been to much of Europe and elsewhere, even as other countries began to relax the bans.

On Monday, the directors of several major airlines, as well as the CEOs of Heathrow Airport and the industry group US Travel Association, will hold a virtual press conference to push for the removal of travel restrictions between the United States and the United Kingdom. . The CEOs of American Airlines (NASDAQ :), British Airways, a unit of IAG (LON :), Delta Air Lines (NYSE :), United Airlines and JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ 🙂 Corp. will also be present.

Airline CEOs had convened a May 11 summit between US officials, UK officials and airlines to discuss how to “quickly reopen transatlantic travel.”

Since March 2020, the United States has banned nearly all non-U.S. Citizens who have been in the United Kingdom in the past 14 days from entering the country. Most American travelers visiting the UK must be quarantined for 10 days upon arrival.

Officials at the airline and administration say no changes are expected in the short term, but add that the restrictions may be lifted as of July 4, but caution that no decisions have been made.

On Friday, France said Americans vaccinated starting June 9 will be able to travel to the country. United said it would resume flights to Paris from Washington in July and Delta said it would also add flights to France.

At a press event at Washington National Airport on Friday, American Airlines President Robert Isom said: “We know there is a huge pent-up demand for service.”

Isom said the airline has “a lot of capacity to be ready to go” to Europe. When asked if the 4th of July would be too late for European summer trips, Isom said: “We will take it when it arrives.”

Airline officials had been hopeful that in late May, the United States would have lifted travel restrictions in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where new cases of COVID-19 have plummeted. (See graphic, global vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access/)

Travel restrictions also apply to most non-US citizens in Brazil, South Africa, India, and Iran.

The Biden administration held a call with British officials on Thursday, people briefed on the matter said, but the White House gave no indication that it is planning to lift the restrictions.

The White House, which is focused on increasing vaccination rates in the United States and reducing COVID-19 cases, declined to comment on Friday.

President Joe Biden is sure to face questions on the issue from foreign leaders when he travels to Europe next week.

“We certainly understand the desire of many Europeans to travel to the United States and vice versa,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on May 21. “We cannot respond to public pressure or even emotion. We have to trust the guidance.” from our health and medical experts. ”

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