Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Four U.S. and European airlines are asking government leaders to begin a joint coronavirus testing program so that transatlantic travel can resume.

Why it matters: Flights between the U.S. and Europe are a huge source of profit for the airline industry, which has collapsed since the pandemic hit. But government restrictions effectively prevent all non-essential travel between the regions.

Driving the news: The CEOs of United Airlines, American Airlines, Deutsche Lufthansa and British Airways owner IAG Tuesday released a letter sent to Vice President Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European Union's commissioner for home affairs, pushing for the international testing effort.

What they're saying: “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 re-open air services between the U.S. and Europe,” they wrote.

  • Testing all passengers and crew would help boost public confidence without quarantine requirements or entry restrictions, the executives added in the letter.

Context: The EU currently bars visits of U.S. residents after relaxing a ban on nonessential travel from 15 countries with lower coronavirus infection rates, Bloomberg writes.

  • Britain requires that people arriving from the U.S. spend 14 days in self-imposed quarantine.
  • U.S. rules, meanwhile, essentially prevent travel by most Europeans.

Yes, but: It's not clear how routine rapid testing could be performed before boarding, or whether passengers would need to provide documentation of recent negative tests.

Go deeper: Air travel will never be the same after coronavirus

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