The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) wants an airport Covid-19 test quickly, so governments can open open borders once more, before more international airlines go bust.
IATA is calling for the development of a “rapid, accurate, affordable, and easy-to-operate” test, which could be offered to passengers on international flights before departure.
In a press release, it says it will work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a test that can be deployed to airports and airlines.
Nations and trade blocs have closed borders or mandated 14-day quarantine periods for foreign visitors in an effort to keep their citizens safe from the virus.
This approach has been disastrous for the international aviation industry. According to IATA, international travel is down 92% compared to 2019.
It says the only way to reopen borders and allow free travel once more is to start offering rapid testing at airports. Accurate tests for arrivals could mean the end of quarantines.
“This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without constant changes in the rules imposed on travel,” Alexandre de Juniac, director general of IATA, said in a press release.
IATA data suggests the public would support airport testing schemes. Their research suggests 88% of those polled agree that testing should be required of all travellers and also say they would undergo testing as part of the travel process.
Airports are also keen.
London Heathrow is working with partners to offer on-arrival testing with results in hours instead of days, which could end the need for a 14-day quarantine. However, the British government has not yet approved the plan.
While antigen tests can produce results in as little as 15 minutes, making them suitable for airport testing, they can also create “false negatives”, unlike the laboratory-dependent PCR tests which take longer to return a result but are more reliable.