The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for speedy Covid-19 testing for all passengers before departure as an alternative to quarantine measures in order to re-establish global air connectivity even as international travel drop by 92% compared to 2019.
IATA noted that there has been limited uptake because either quarantine measures make travel impractical or the frequent changes in COVID-19 measures make planning impossible.
According to Director General and CEO of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, the key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic COVID-19 testing of all travelers before departure.
“This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work,” he said.
With over half of the year passed since global connectivity was shut as countries closed their airspace to curb the spread of the pandemic. However, the economic cost of the breakdown in global connectivity makes investing in a border-opening testing solution a priority for governments.
IATA posited that human suffering and global economic pain of the crisis will be prolonged if the aviation industry on which at least 65.5 million jobs depend collapses before the pandemic ends.
The organization noted the amount of government support needed to avert such a collapse is rising as lost revenues are expected to exceed $400 billion and the industry was set to post a record net loss of over $80 billion in 2020 under a more optimistic rebound scenario than has actually unfolded.
The CEO of IATA posited that safety is aviation’s top priority despite been the safest form of transport and the industry needs to work together with governments to implement global standards.
His words, “With the economic cost associated with border closures rising daily and a second-wave of infections taking hold, the aviation industry must call on this expertise to 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”.
IATA, however, seeks strong support for COVID-19 testing in the travel process as testing will help to rebuild passenger confidence in aviation. With the evolution of COVID-19 testing that is progressing rapidly on all parameters speed, accuracy, affordability, ease of use and scalability. The organization noted that deployable solutions are expected in the coming weeks.
“By calling for the establishment of a global approach to COVID-19 testing for all passengers before departure we are sending a clear signal of aviation’s needs. In the meantime, we are gaining practical knowledge from the testing programs that already exist as part of the various travel bubble or travel corridor initiatives around the world.”
“We must continue with these valuable programs which move us in the right direction by building testing experience, facilitating essential travel and demonstrating testing effectiveness,” said de Juniac.
IATA opined that COVID-19 testing before departure is the preferred option as it will create a “clean” environment throughout the travel process. Testing on arrival dents passenger confidence with the potential for quarantine at destination in the event of a positive result.