U.S. airlines, already battered financially by the pandemic, met with White House officials Friday to raise their objections to the idea of requiring a negative COVID-19 test for domestic flights.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said mandatory testing was under consideration, according to The Associated Press.

Estonia is testing a plan to issue vaccine passports to travelers who have received the COVID-19 shots. Denmark and Sweden have announced plans to create digital vaccine passports. The U.S. is not discussing such a measure.

Proof of a negative test or recovery from the disease is already required for international passengers intending to fly to the U.S. The CDC put the measure in place last month.

The airline industry did not object to that plan but pushed back hard against extending mandatory testing to domestic flights.

"We had a very positive, constructive conversation focused on our shared commitment to science-based policies as we work together to end the pandemic, restore air travel and lead our nation toward recovery," Nick Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America, said in a statement.

The CEOs of five major U.S. air carriers reportedly spoke to the White House's coronavirus-response coordinator, Jeff Zients. The AP reported those airlines included Alaska, American, JetBlue, Southwest and United.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not dismiss the idea of requiring testing proof but indicated it was not imminent.

"Reports that there is an intention to put in place new requirements such as testing are not accurate," Psaki said.

Late last month, American and Southwest reported record losses in 2020. For Southwest, it was the first annual loss since 1972. The industry lost a $34 million overall last year, according to CNBC.

Airlines say there is not enough testing capacity to test every passenger. According to the Transportation Security Agency, more than 1 million people went through its checkpoints on Thursday.

Unions for the airlines also oppose testing requirements. The Southwest Airlines pilots' union said Friday a testing requirement would put more jobs at risk because of further depressing demand for air travel.

If air traffic doesn't triple, Southwest Airlines warned it may lay off staff
If air traffic doesn't triple, Southwest Airlines warned it may lay off staff AFP / Frederic J. BROWN
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