LONDON – The Chief executives at IAG, Lufthansa (LH), American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines (UA) have written a letter to US vice-president Mike Pence and European home-affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson.

The letter urges the statesmen to adopt a joint COVID-19 testing program to enable transatlantic passenger flights to resume.

International Airlines Group IAG is the owner of British Airways (BA), Iberia (IB), Vueling (VY), and LEVEL (LV), among others.

Level Airbus A321 at Rome Fiumicino. Credits: Daniel Veronesi-RomeAviationSpotters

The Reason for the EU-US Joint Letter

EU member states gave the go-ahead in mid-July to relax travel restrictions for visitors from a number of external countries. However, the US was not included on the list.

Similarly, the US government has a travel ban in place for most European visitors.

In this scenario, EU and US airlines want to restart their respective operations across the pond as these routes represent big earnings for their incomes.

Lufthansa Airbus A330-300. Credits: Filippo Martini-RomeAviationSpotters

Content of The Letter

The executives write that it is critical to find a way to reopen air services between the US and Europe. This is due to the unquestioned importance of transatlantic air travel to the global economy. It is also critical to the “economic recovery of our businesses.”

The executives urge the politicians to consider adopting a joint US-EU COVID-19 testing program. The program would be aimed at enhancing safety and building “confidence in critical transatlantic passenger air services,” the letter read.

The letter further suggests that a co-ordinated COVID-19 testing program could be key to resume service without quarantine requirements or other entry restrictions.

American Airlines Airbus A321-200 N144AN. Photo: ©Alvin Man

What about AF-KLM and Delta Air Lines?

The four airline groups all have substantial and lucrative transatlantic operations. They argue that nobody would benefit from a prolonged closure of “this most indispensable corridor for global aviation.”

Delta Air Lines (DL) and Air France-KLM group seem to be missing from the letter. At the time of writing, DL and KLM have made no comment about the request.

This is telling, as they also have a number of EU-US routes in their respective networks. For now, we will see whether or not there is a positive reply to the letter.