International flights to the US will require negative Covid tests from passengers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The new rule aims to contain the spread of the disease as new infections reach record highs.
Arriving travelers from other countries starting Jan. 26 need to test negative for Covid-19 within three days of their flight to the U.S., the CDC stated.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a news release.
The agency last month started requiring negative Covid tests for travelers flying from the U.K., as a more contagious strain of the virus was detected there, though it has since been found around the U.S.
The state of international flights remains grim because of the travel restrictions that ban foreigners aiming to enter the US.
December international arrivals by air fell to 76% from a year earlier, with non-citizen arrivals down 83%, according to Airlines for America.
The testing requirement applies to passengers ages 2 and older traveling to the US. These include citizens, visitors, and legal permanent residents.
The CDC said on its website that one must be tested “no more than 3 days before your flight to the US departs. Make sure to be tested with a viral test (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Also make sure that you receive your results before your flight departs and have documentation of your results to show the airline.”
CDC will ask air passengers arriving in the US to present a paper or electronic copy of their test results. It will be evaluated by the airline before one boards the plane and possibly by public health officials after one arrives in the US.
Airline passenger traffic was down by 67% in 2020, a study from travel data and analytics company Cirium suggests.
“The pandemic and its consequences wiped out 21 years of global passenger traffic growth in a matter of months, reducing traffic this year to levels last seen in 1999,” said Cirium in a press release.
“In comparison to last year, passenger traffic is estimated to be down 67% in 2020,” the firm stated.
Only 2.9 trillion global revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) were posted in 2020, compared to 8.7 trillion in 2019. RPKs are used as a tool for assessing airline traffic.
The coronavirus pandemic hit the aviation industry hard as countries shut down their borders in order to contain the spread of the disease.
Cirium’s data shows that airlines ran 16.8 million flights from Jan. 1 to Dec. 20, 2020. That is a decline from 33.2 million in the same period in 2019.
More than 40 airlines stopped or suspended operations, while experts predict more to close in 2021, Cirium said.
Meanwhile, Cirium’s Airline Insights Review 2020 report shows that Asia-Pacific and North America were the “fastest to establish themselves on the long path to recovery.”
In June, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that the airline industry may lose $84 billion in 2020.