NEW YORK (Reuters) -British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic reported on Monday that only passengers testing negative for coronavirus would be allowed to fly to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The decision follows New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal that airlines voluntarily agree to screen passengers on flights to Kennedy Airport following the emergence in Britain of a highly contagious new strain of coronavirus.
On Monday, hundreds of nations, but not the U.S., closed their borders with Britain, causing travel chaos.
Cuomo, who shares airport control through the New York and New Jersey Port Authority's state department, has said the U.S. government should also stop flights from Britain, although he admitted that it might come too late to prevent the new strain from spreading.
"I believe it's already here intuitively," he said, "because if it's been flying around the world, it's already been here."
On Monday, the White House Task Force on Coronavirus met to explore the possibility of temporarily stopping inbound passenger flights from the United Kingdom, but no decision was announced.
The screenings are scheduled to start this week for British Airways, Delta and Virgin.
As well as the rest of Europe, U.S. airlines have also significantly cut back flying to the United Kingdom: American Airlines, for example, actually operates just one U.S. regular flight out of Dallas to London.
In December, United Airlines, which provided a travel waiver for U.S. flights to Heathrow between Dec. 21, 2020, and Jan. 17, conducted four daily flights to London, but said it would cut those by half starting in January earlier this month. The airline operated 20 daily flights to the UK last winter.