IATA Calls for Covid Testing of All International Passengers

 - September 22, 2020, 9:28 AM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday called for universal Covid testing for international passengers and for governments to end quarantine measures. During a conference call with media, IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said that quarantine requirements “are killing” airline efforts to recover from the pandemic and that testing all passengers before they travel should allow governments to completely end the practice.  

“We have not come to this decision lightly,” said de Juniac in reference to his group’s new policy position. “The integration of systematic testing into the travel process will present logistical challenges and impact how people travel. It needs testing manufacturers to develop a test that can be deployed that is fast, accurate, scalable, affordable, and easy to operate…And it will need governments to agree on common standards so that tests administered in the departure country are accepted upon arrival.”

IATA advocates for antigen tests, which de Juniac said testing providers will have ready by October. On the issue of speed, the tests would take no longer than 15 minutes to yield results, as opposed to the more common polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which typically take days. The group has also called for governments to bear testing costs, each of which amounts to about $10, said de Juniac.

International markets continue to suffer disproportionately from the pandemic and, overall, recovery has not happened as fast or to the extent that IATA had expected earlier in the year. De Juniac lays the blame largely on the quarantine measures, which more than 80 percent of prospective passengers say precludes them from traveling, according to most recent surveys cited by IATA. The situation has led several airlines recently to announce further capacity cuts for the winter season, a reflection, said IATA chief economist Brian Pearce, of the slower-than-expected pace of recovery.