Of all the flight paths in the world, the route between New York and London, and to a lesser extent between New York and the other major EU airports, are the most profitable routes in the world. Most international airlines have at least a toehold in that transport corridor. But since April, the skies between the U.S. and the EU have been nearly empty. Faced with business ruin, a group of major airlines has petitioned for a coordinated COVID-19 testing program organized by a team from the U.S., the UK, and the EU, so that travel restrictions between the two continents can be resumed.

Most American and European airlines are desperate for that trans-Atlantic market to reopen, even considering it their only hope of financial recovery. But as things stand, only a small, specific subset of travelers is allowed to make that crossing. For most, the air borders between the U.S. and Europe, indeed the U.S. and most of the world, are closed.

Currently, no travelers who have visited Europe in the past 14 days are allowed to embark in the U.S., U.S. travelers to the UK are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and no U.S. travelers are allowed to enter the EU (except for very limited, exceptional cases, judged on an individual basis).

The petition letter to the U.S. and European governments came from the chief executives of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Lufthansa.

“Given the unquestioned importance of trans-Atlantic air travel to the global economy as well as to the economic recovery of our businesses, we believe it is critical to find a way to re-open air services between the US and Europe,” the letter said.

“In addition to all the significant and unprecedented actions that governments and airlines are taking to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, a coordinated COVID-19 testing program could be key to providing confidence to permit services to resume without quarantine requirements or other entry restrictions”

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