Industry lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A) – which counts carriers including AA, Delta, Jetblue, Southwest and United among its members – has written a letter to US president Joe Biden urging him to drop Covid-era travel restrictions.

A4A asked Biden to remove pre-departure testing requirements and the mandatory wearing of face masks inflight, stating that the measures “are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment”.

The body said that pre-departure testing had “outlived its utility and stymies the return of international travel”, citing the removal of such measures by the UK, the EU and Canada.

A4A said that “The US inconsistency with these practices creates a competitive disadvantage for US travel and tourism by placing an additional cost and burden on travel to the US”, adding that “many outbound travellers are not willing to risk being stranded overseas”.

The letter also pointed to a recent study by Oxera and Edge Health, which examined the effectiveness of travel restrictions in Europe and concluded that such measures have failed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On the subject of mask wearing, A4A said that “The science clearly supports lifting the mask mandate, as demonstrated by the recently released CDC framework indicating that 99 per cent of the US population no longer need to wear masks indoors”.

Again the letter pointed studies – by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the US Department of Defense – which have concluded “that an airplane cabin is one of the safest indoor environments due to the combination of highly filtered air and constant air flow coupled with the downward direction of the air”.

While urging the Adminstration to drop mandatory mask wearing inflight, A4A said that “the effectiveness and availability of high-quality masks for those who wish to wear them gives passengers the ability to further protect themselves if they choose to do so”.

Earlier this month the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) renewed its directive on the mandatory wearing of masks until April 18, with the White House stating that it was “working across government on a revised policy framework for when to mask based on its Covid-19 community levels”.