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Major airlines call for testing to restore transatlantic travel

CEOs say it's critical to reopen air services between U.S. and Europe

FILE - In this March 31, 2020 file photo American Airlines planes are parked at Pittsburgh International Airport in Imperial, Pa.  There will be no more attempt at social distancing on American Airlines flights. The airline said Friday, June 26,  that it will start booking flights to full capacity next week. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file)
FILE - In this March 31, 2020 file photo American Airlines planes are parked at Pittsburgh International Airport in Imperial, Pa. There will be no more attempt at social distancing on American Airlines flights. The airline said Friday, June 26, that it will start booking flights to full capacity next week. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

FRANKFURT – Major airlines are urging the U.S. and the European Union to quickly restore transatlantic air travel by deploying a joint COVID-19 testing program.

The CEOs of United, American Airlines, IAG and Lufthansa Group wrote Tuesday that “given the unquestioned importance of transatlantic air travel to the global economy as well as to the economic recovery of our businesses, we believe it is critical to find a way to reopen air services between the U.S. and Europe.”

They said that a testing program for the transatlantic market “could be an excellent opportunity for government and industry to work together” and “safely restore passenger travel between the U.S. and Europe.”

The letter was addressed “with urgency” to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and to Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs.

The signers were Scott Kirby for United, Carsten Spohr for Lufthansa, Doug Parker for American, and Willie Walsh at IAG, which owns British Airways and Iberia.