Airlines for America, an industry organization, has argued that airplanes have a very low risk for virus transmission because of high-end cabin ventilation systems, strong disinfection practices and strict rules requiring that passengers wear masks. The industry has also argued that it plays a vital economic role and that further restrictions to travel could hinder the recovery.
“We remain confident that this layered approach significantly reduces risk and are encouraged that science continues to confirm there is a very low risk of virus transmission onboard aircraft,” the group said.
The first stimulus bill signed into law nearly a year ago, included $50 billion in grants and loans to prop up the airline industry, which was hobbled by the pandemic. In December, Congress approved another $15 billion in grants to keep airline workers employed. The relief bill passed by the Senate on Saturday, includes $14 billion more for airlines, a measure applauded by the industry.
In a Monday letter to President Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey D. Zients, a coalition of travel and tourism trade groups asked to work with the White House on federal guidance for temporary virus “health credentials,” which could be used to securely and uniformly verify test results or vaccination status. Such guidance could also yield benefits beyond aviation, they argued.
“It could encourage more widespread adoption of processes to verify testing and vaccination records, from sports arenas to restaurants, business meetings, theme parks, and more,” the group wrote.
Ms. Psaki said during the briefing on Tuesday that the Biden administration welcomed “ideas that will come from the private sector and nonprofits” about how people could demonstrate that they are vaccinated, but that “our focus from the federal government is on getting more people vaccinated, and that’s where we feel we can use our resources best.”
Currently, the Biden administration requires people traveling to the United States from another country to present a negative virus test. At one point this year, administration officials were considering a similar requirement for domestic travel, a move the airline industry pushed back against, saying it was needlessly restrictive and would hurt an already struggling sector. The C.D.C. in February said it was not recommending testing for domestic travel “at this time.”
Bryan Pietsch contributed reporting.