American Airlines to start pre-flight Covid-19 testing
As part of an ongoing effort to help protect customer health and safety, inspire confidence in air travel and advance the industry’s recovery from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, American Airlines is collaborating with several foreign governments to begin offering preflight Covid-19 testing for customers traveling to international destinations, starting with Jamaica and the Bahamas. The carrier plans to expand the program to additional markets in the weeks and months ahead.
“The pandemic has changed our business in ways we never could have expected, but all the while, the entire American Airlines team has eagerly tackled the challenge of reimagining the way we deliver a safe, healthy and enjoyable travel experience for our customers,” said Robert Isom, president of American Airlines. He added, “Our plan for this initial phase of preflight testing reflects the ingenuity and care our team is putting into rebuilding confidence in air travel, and we view this as an important step in our work to accelerate an eventual recovery of demand.”
The airlines has reached an agreement with Jamaica to launch an initial testing program at its Miami International Airport (MIA) hub next month. The initial phase of testing will be for Jamaican residents traveling to their home country. If a passenger tests negative for Covid-19 ahead of flying with American, the 14-day quarantine currently in place for returning Jamaican residents would be waived. Following a successful pilot program, the objective is to open this testing protocol for all passengers traveling to Jamaica, including US citizens. The timing of such a potential announcement is to be determined.
“I thank American Airlines for initiating these efforts to ensure safety and confidence for travelers from the United States, and for leading with Jamaica as a pilot for its COVID-19 testing program,” said Audrey Marks, ambassador of Jamaica to the United States. She added, “This is timely, given the government’s ongoing review in cooperation with the global initiative for health and safety group of the current protocols governing travel to the island, and it could be a game-changer, not just for tourism, but also for other key sectors of the economy that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing pandemic.”
The Bahamas and CARICOM
American Airlines has also started working with the Bahamas and CARICOM to launch similar testing programs that would allow travel to the region. The next international program will be with the Bahamas and is expected to launch next month. Details on the protocols for that country will follow.
“We are so pleased that American Airlines has included the Bahamas in their preflight testing program and for their continued commitment to mitigating the spread of coronavirus,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation for the Bahamas. “Miami is a major gateway to our islands, and we believe predeparture testing will create important efficiencies, while ensuring the health and safety of both our visitors and residents,” he added.
As its initial preflight testing programs begin to launch, the airlines is also actively engaged with CARICOM, an integrated grouping of 20 Caribbean countries, about expanding the program to additional Caribbean markets.
“We are pleased that American Airlines has taken the lead to initiate this exciting Covid-19 predeparture testing program,” said Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and chairman of CARICOM. He added, “The Caribbean community welcomes this important progress to re-open markets with the health and safety of our citizens being of paramount importance, and we’ll be monitoring this program very closely as it ramps up in our region.”
Preflight testing for travel to Hawaii
In addition to its efforts in opening international markets to travel, the airlines has been working with the government of Hawaii to develop a series of options that fit the requirements for travel to the state. Starting October 15, the airline will begin a preflight Covid-19 testing program at its Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) hub for customers traveling to Hawaii, in partnership with LetsGetChecked, CareNow and the DFW Airport.
Beginning next month, American Airlines will offer three options for preflight testing to customers with flights from DFW to Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG). They include at-home test from LetsGetChecked, observed by a medical professional via virtual visit, with results expected in 48 hours on average, in-person testing at a CareNow urgent care location or onsite rapid testing, administered by CareNow, at DFW.
Testing must be completed within 72 hours of the final leg of departure. Travelers who test negative will be exempt from the state’s 14-day quarantine.