Iata calls for the development and implementation of fast, accurate, accessible, easy to operate, scalable, and systematic COVID-19 tests for all passengers before departure on a flight as an alternative to quarantine measures in order to re-establish global air connectivity. The entity will work through ICAO and with health authorities to implement this solution quickly.
International travel is 92% below 2019 levels and more than half a year has passed since global connectivity was destroyed, with countries closing their borders. Some countries have reopened, but quarantine measures make travel impractical, and frequent changes in pandemic-related procedures make planning impossible.
“The key to restoring freedom of mobility is the systematic COVID-19 test 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 the freedom to travel with confidence and this will put millions of professionals back to work, ”says the association’s general director and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.
The economic cost of breaking global connectivity makes investment in a testing solution a priority for governments. The suffering and global economic impact will be prolonged if the aviation industry collapses before the pandemic ends. And the amount of government support needed to prevent this collapse is increasing. Revenue already lost is expected to exceed $ 400 billion and the sector may record a record net loss of more than $ 80 billion in 2020 in a recovery scenario more optimistic than what actually happened.
“Safety is the top priority for aviation. We are the safest form of transportation because we work together as an industry with governments to implement global standards. With the economic cost associated with border closings increasing daily and the second wave of infections occurring, we must use this experience to join governments and medical examination providers to find a fast, accurate, affordable, and easy to operate service that will allow the world to reconnect safely ”, he concludes.
An Iata public opinion poll revealed strong support for testing in the travel process. About 65% of surveyed travelers agreed that quarantine should not be required if a person’s result is negative for COVID-19.
Passenger support for the test is evident, with 84% agreeing that the measure should be required of all travelers and 88% responding that they are willing to undergo tests as part of the travel process.
In addition to opening borders, the surveys indicated that the tests will help rebuild passenger confidence in aviation. Participants identified the implementation of screening measures for all passengers as effective in making them feel safe, second only to wearing a mask. And the availability of the rapid test is among the top three signs that travelers look to make sure that travel is safe – along with the availability of a vaccine or treatment for the disease.