In efforts to reignite air travel and address the issue of varying quarantine measures, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is requesting that all passengers be tested for Covid-19 before travel.
Citing the economic cost of the breakdown in global air connectivity, IATA said investing in a border-opening testing solution should be a priority for governments.
The association urges however that there must be a global approach to testing. In this direction, IATA has pledged to work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and with health authorities to develop and implement rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic Covid-19 testing.
“The ICAO process is critical to aligning governments to a single global standard that can be efficiently implemented and globally recognized. Airlines, airports, equipment manufacturers and governments will then need to work in total alignment so that we can get this done quickly. Each day that the industry is grounded risks more job losses and economic hardship,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general and CEO.
In view of a 92 percent decline in air travel against 2019, impacted by the outbreak of the deadly virus and exacerbated by inconsistent quarantine measures, global connectivity has been destroyed, says IATA.
“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,” said de Juniac.
“Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work,” he added.
It should be reminded that the aviation industry supports some 65.5 million jobs.
“Safety is aviation’s top priority. We are the safest form of transport because we work together as an industry with governments to implement global standards. 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,” said de Juniac.
Meanwhile, IATA went ahead and surveyed 4,700 people on August 25- 31 in 11 markets on pre-boarding Covid-19 testing and found that public opinion was in its favour.
Findings revealed strong support for Covid testing in the travel process with some 65 percent of travelers polled agreeing that quarantine should not be required if a person tests negative for coronavirus.
A total of 84 percent agreed that testing should be required of all travelers and 88 percent said they were willing to undergo testing as part of the travel process.
Furthermore, according to IATA, survey participants said Covid-19 screening for all passengers would make them feel safe, second only to mask-wearing.
IATA says pre-flight screening will improve passenger confidence as travelers will be able ahead to avoid quarantine at destination.
The association does not expect Covid-19 pre-flight screening to become a permanent fixture in air travel, but it will “likely be needed into the medium-term for air travel to re-establish itself”.