American Airlines is planning to launch pre-flight COVID-19 testing on certain flights in the Caribbean region.
The plan will begin with preflight COVID-19 testing for customers traveling to Jamaica and The Bahamas.
Jamaica will be the first destination, with American Airlines having reached an agreement with Jamaica to launch an initial testing program at Miami International Airport next month.
The initial phase of that program will be for Jamaican residents traveling home. If a passenger tests negative for COVID-19 ahead of flying with America, the current 14-day quarantine in place for returning Jamaican nationals would be waived.
Following a successful pilot program, American aims to open the testing protocol to 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 Airlines is also working with The Bahamas and CARICOM to launch similar testing programs.
The next program would be with The Bahamas, with similar plans to launch next month.
“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.”
American Airlines has not yet revealed what kind of testing would be conducted.
The carrier has revealed similar plans for certain flights to Hawaii. On those flights, one option is on-site airport rapid testing administered by a company called CareNow.
“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 current 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.”