After months of stringent international travel restrictions, efforts are underway to open travel between London and New York City, according to sources familiar with the plans.
There is ongoing planning for a pilot program that would use a combination of testing and quarantines to help get international air traffic moving again, according to one of the sources familiar with the plans. The NYC-London route would be a pilot route for the program.
However, the program is “far from a done deal yet,” the source said.
Earlier this year, the US implemented a set of severe travel restrictions as the Trump administration grappled with how to handle the spreading coronavirus pandemic, which included banning travelers from dozens of countries, rerouting flights and diverting thousands of airline passengers for medical screening. In March, the administration expanded its restrictions from Europe to include the United Kingdom and Ireland as it tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The US had already blocked certain travel from Iran and China.
A Department of Homeland Security official told CNN: “We’re at the early stages of working with our interagency partners, the industry, and our international partners for means to safely encourage transatlantic travel while mitigating public health risks.”
Officials are hoping to open travel between the two cities before the end of the year, but there are still details to be worked out and the timing is unclear, an administration official said. “We want to get to a program. We are trying to figure out what an opening would look like,” such as “what criteria we would have to meet” and “who would be responsible,” the official said.
To open travel, officials are going to want a “recent negative test,” but it is still unclear who would collect the information and verify the results, according to an administration official. “Who is going to verify the negative test? Who will do that — TSA, the airlines? It hasn’t matured yet to a pilot program yet,” the official said.
Knowing that quarantines aren’t something the US has been able to enforce, it may be a recommendation but likely not a requirement to allow trans-Atlantic travel, the official said.
On September 22, the International Air Transport Association called for coronavirus testing at airports as a requirement for all passengers and airplane crew members before international flights.
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