IATA looks to pre-departure COVID-19 testing as solution to damaging quarantine restrictions

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been looking into ways to help airlines recover from a 92% drop in international travel compared to 2019 levels. It has identified a combination of border closures, sporadic quarantine regulations and frequent changes to countries’ measures to combat the COVID-19 virus as key drivers that make planning flights virtually impossible.

“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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

There is considerable concern that the aviation industry will collapse if the pandemic crisis prolongs the lack of demand for air travel, an industry which supports 65.5 million workers. The current cost of the pandemic is estimated at US$400 billion, while IATA anticipates that 2020 will see carriers post a combined net loss of US$80 billion. Those figures may prove to be optimistic as they have been based on a rebound scenario, while much of Europe is witnessing a resurgence of the deadly virus.

“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.

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