This comes 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 pandemic. The carrier plans to expand the programme 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. “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.”
Testing in Jamaica
The airline has reached an agreement with Jamaica to launch an initial testing programme at its Miami International Airport 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.
Audrey Marks, Ambassador of Jamaica to the US, said: “This is timely, given the government’s ongoing review in co-operation 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, an integrated grouping of 20 Caribbean countries, to launch similar testing programs that would allow travel to the region. The airline’s next international program will be with the Bahamas, and is expected to launch next month. Details on the protocols for that country will follow.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation for the Bahamas, said: “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.”
Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Chairman of CARICOM, 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, American has been working with the government of Hawaii to develop a series of options that fit the Hawaiian requirements for travel to the state. Starting on 15 October, the airline will begin a pre-flight Covid-19 testing programme at its Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport hub for customers travelling to Hawaii, in partnership with LetsGetChecked, CareNow and the DFW Airport.
Recently, Lufthansa has made similar plans in the hope of re-opening transatlantic routes. Almost 50,000 passengers have so far been tested before departure to China or Dubai, where a negative test result is mandatory for entry.