Travel bans
(Constantine Johnny, Getty)
  • US officials are considering requiring a negative Covid-19 test result for domestic flights.
  • International travellers headed to the US are already required to show a negative Covid-19 test, as is the case for those travelling to South Africa.
  • Delta Airlines, for one, is not a fan of the idea to extend that to in-country flying too.
  • Visit Business Insider South Africa for more stories.

US officials are considering requiring a negative Covid-19 test result from travellers flying domestically, the country's new transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview on "Axios on HBO" on Sunday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently having an "active conversation" about the potential requirement, Buttigiegsaid.

"What I can tell you is that it's going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out," Buttigieg said. "The safer we can make air travel, in terms of perception as well as reality, the more people are going to be ready to get back into the air."

When asked about Buttigieg's comment at a White House press briefing on Monday, Rochelle Walensky, the CDC's director, said additional screening in gathering places like airports could help detect asymptomatic spreaders. 

"There's more gathering that happens in airports, so to the extent that we have available tests, to be able to do testing ... would be yet another mitigation measure to try and decrease the spread," Walensky said.

The US Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to Insider's request for additional comment.

Not everyone is receptive to the idea. Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines' CEO, told CNN on Tuesday that the possibility of such a mandate is a "horrible idea" that could take "10% of testing resources" away from sick people.

"Travel domestically in the air transportation system is the safest form of transportation," Bastian told CNN. "Incidents of spread aboard any of our planes is absolutely minimal."

Bastian also says the potential testing protocol will not keep domestic travelers safer but would be a "logistical nightmare" that could set transportation, travel, and hospitality industries back "at least another year in the recovery."

The US already requires a negative Covid-19 test result from all international travellers, a mandate that was officially implemented on January 26. In response, major hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton have started offering on-site virus tests at several international locations.

South Africa, and many other countries, have similar requirements for those flying in from abroad.

"Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of Covid-19," the US CDC said in an email statement sent to Insider on January 12. "This [negative test result from international travelers] strategy is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects the health of Americans."

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.