(Photo: Yahoo)

American Airlines offers pre-flight COVID-19 testing to Jamaica, two other markets

(Photo: Yahoo)

American Airlines will begin testing for COVID-19 in three markets as the winter tourism season starts.

An American Airlines aircraft. (Photo: Yahoo Finance)

An initial testing programme for travellers to Jamaica will begin at Miami International Airport (MIA) next month, with the airline stating that testing can further aid customer health and safety while helping to reopen markets to tourism

The airline said in a statement today that it is engaged with the Bahamas and CARICOM (The Caribbean Community) in a bid to expand the programme across the Caribbean.

Pre-flight testing will also soon be available for travel from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Hawaii.

AA’s agreement with Jamaica will see it launch an initial testing programme at its Miami International Airport hub next month.

In its release, the company said, “As part of an ongoing effort to help protect customer health and safety, inspire confidence in air travel and advance the industry’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American Airlines is collaborating with several foreign governments to begin offering pre-flight COVID-19 testing for customers travelling to international destinations, starting with Jamaica and the Bahamas.”

The carrier plans to expand the programme 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 pre-flight 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.”

The airline has reached agreement with Jamaica to launch an initial testing programme at its Miami International Airport (MIA) hub next month. The initial phase of testing will be for Jamaican residents travelling 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, under the agreement, the company said.

It outlined that, following a successful pilot programme, the objective is to open this testing protocol for all passengers travelling to Jamaica, including US citizens. The timing of such a potential announcement is to be determined.

Audrey Marks, Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States  was quoted in the company announcement stating, “I thank American Airlines for initiating these efforts to ensure safety and confidence for travellers from the United States, and for leading with Jamaica as a pilot for its COVID-19 testing program.

“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.

The airline said it is also actively engaged with CARICOM, an integrated grouping of 20 Caribbean countries, about expanding the program to additional Caribbean markets.