The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for the development of rapid, accurate and affordable COVID-19 testing for all passengers before boarding a plane as an alternative to quarantine measures in order to re-establish global air connectivity. To ensure a quick implementation of this measure, IATA will work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and with health authorities.
International travel is 92% down on 2019 levels due to border closures related to the COVID-19 crisis. Since then, some governments have re-opened borders, but there has been limited uptake because of quarantine measures make and frequent policy changes.
According to Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, a compulsory Covid-19 test before departure is the only solution to restore the freedom of mobility across borders and will give governments the confidence to open their frontiers again, without any risk for their citizens.
“Those who refuse such a test are not allowed on board,” declared de Juniac, stressing that the tests would have to be mandatory.
The economic cost of the breakdown in global connectivity makes investing in a border-opening testing solution a priority for governments. The human suffering and global economic pain of the crisis will be prolonged if the aviation industry — which creates more than 65.5 million jobs — collapses before the pandemic ends.
“Safety is aviation’s top priority. We are the safest form of transport because we work together with governments to implement global standards. The aviation industry must unite with governments and medical testing providers to find a rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, and scalable testing solution that will enable the world to safely re-connect and recover,” said de Juniac.
On Tuesday, IATA pointed out that cheap rapid Covid-19 tests will be available from October onwards. The test will provide reliable a result within 15 minutes, and it will be possible to be taken without the intervention of medical staff.
IATA does not see COVID-19 testing becoming a permanent fixture in the air travel experience, but it will be needed into the medium-term for air travel to re-establish itself.
According to IATA’s forecasts, if air traffic will recover, some 4 to 5 million tests would be needed per day.