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American Airlines, U.S. Carriers Gain as CDC Updates Travel Guidelines

Fully vaccinated Americans can travel domestically without quarantine or a COVID test, the CDC said late last week.

American Airlines  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group Inc. Report led U.S. carriers higher Monday after the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines late last week that gave the green light for fully vaccinated travelers to fly without quarantine. 

The updated CDC guidelines say full-vaccinated Americans can travel to and from domestic destinations without quarantine, and do not need a COVID-19 test, provided that masking and social distancing practices remain in place. Those who haven't been vaccinated are asked to get tested between one and three days prior to their trip and self-quarantine once their final destination has been reached.

Restrictions on international travel, as well as arrivals from non-U.S. citizens, will also remain. 

The moves come amid a resurgence in domestic air travel powered by a vaccine rollout that has reached more than 160 million Americans, according to CDC data published Sunday, and the re-opening of non-essential businesses and leisure sites around the country. Around 61.1 million Americans have been fully-vaccinated, the CDC said.

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Transport Security Administration data for Saturday, the last available, showed 1.4 million travelers screened at domestic airports heading into the Easter Sunday rush, a figure that dwarfs the 118,000 total from the same day last year but still well behind the more than 2 million passengers screened on April 3, 2019.

"We know that right now we have a surging number of cases. I would advocate against general travel overall," CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Friday. "We are not recommending travel at this time, especially for unvaccinated individuals."

American Airlines shares jumped 3.75% to $24.75 each while United Airlines  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report was marked 4.5% higher at $60.43 each.

Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines Inc. Report shares, meanwhile, were marked 3.22% higher at $50.40 each after the carrier said stronger-than-expected weekend traffic meant it would open up middle seat booking a month ahead of schedule, and cancelled more than 100 flights owing to staff shortages.

"Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status," the group said in a Sunday statement.