FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – American Airlines announced Tuesday it’s working with several foreign governments to begin offering preflight COVID-19 testing for customers traveling to international destinations, starting with Jamaica and the Bahamas.
The airline plans to expand the program 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.”
American has reached agreement with Jamaica to launch an initial testing program at its Miami International Airport (MIA) 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, American says its objective is to open this testing protocol for all passengers traveling to Jamaica, including U.S. citizens.
“I thank American Airlines for initiating these efforts to ensure safety and confidence for travelers from the United States, and for leading with Jamaica as a pilot for its COVID-19 testing program,” said Audrey Marks, Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States. “This is timely, given the government’s ongoing review in cooperation 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.”
American also has started working with the Bahamas and CARICOM to launch similar testing programs that would allow travel to the region.
American’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.
“We are so pleased that American Airlines has included The Bahamas in their preflight testing program and for their continued commitment to mitigating the spread of coronavirus,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation for the Bahamas. “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.”
As its initial preflight testing programs begin to launch, American is also actively engaged with CARICOM, an integrated grouping of 20 Caribbean countries, about expanding the program to additional Caribbean markets.
“We are pleased that American Airlines has taken the lead to initiate this exciting COVID-19 predeparture testing program,” said Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Chairman of CARICOM. “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.”