Airlines call for COVID-19 tests before all international flights

By Laurence Frost

Global airlines called on Tuesday for airport COVID-19 tests for all departing international passengers to replace the quarantines they blame for exacerbating the travel slump.

Rapid and affordable antigen tests that can be administered by non-medical staff are expected to become available in "coming weeks" and should be rolled out under globally agreed standards, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said during an online media briefing.

"We don’t see any alternative solution that would be less challenging or more effective," IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said.

Airlines hammered by the pandemic are pressing governments to embrace alternatives to blanket travel restrictions that are still hampering a traffic recovery - and now tightening again in Europe amid resurgent case numbers.

With rapid antigen tests becoming available for as little as $7 each, De Juniac said, airlines will push for their use to be endorsed by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. agency that oversees global aviation rules.

IATA believes production could be quickly increased to millions per day and the tests phased in between late October and the end of the year, "helping to save a part of the winter season", De Juniac told Reuters television.

A global agreement is needed to ensure pre-departure test results are uniformly accepted by the destination country, he said. "It will also boost passenger confidence that everybody on the aircraft has been tested."

Antigen tests are faster but generally more likely to miss positive cases of the virus than laboratory-based molecular diagnostic tests.

Among companies marketing the new tests, German diagnostics specialist Qiagen said earlier this month it planned to launch a COVID-19 antigen test that provided results in 15 minutes and could be deployed in airports or stadiums.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Not in Japan, as if a Japanese company can’t make a buck, and the ministry of health can’t control it then it won’t happen with any degree of speed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good idea. Fast, on the spot testing is the key to getting life, and the economy, back to normal as soon as possible.

I agree Japan would not accept these tests as they lack layers of bureaucracy, red tape and money making opportunities.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Well then airlines should prepare to lose more money as they make traveling more inconvenient, I wouldn't mind never traveling outside of Japan again, this is the best country in the world, in my opinion.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

No way will Japan accept this. If it becomes acceptable, then foreign residents who are pining for their families and homes will be able to come back to Japan easily. Japan doesn't want that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Actually, Narita Airport has already started implementing a 90 minute PCR test for arrivals apparently. But you're right, at $400 to $500 per test privately, it's another great example of the "free market" in action.

There's so much to love about here, but I'm thinking that one day when paper finally becomes obsolete, they'll probably still go through the paper shuffling actions just out of habit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can throw away those cheap test sets just into the garbage can. Although they might have quite good parameters as stated by the producers or distributors, their real values of sensitivity and specificity are far below usefulness. Especially under time pressure, stress and unclean environment at airports you can just forget what those test kits indicate. Put those some dollars better as a kind of tax into an environment fund instead, just to pay a little for what you do the planet and people when often flying around without real reason.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So, you go to the airport, with your flight ticket, and you're told you've tested positive. You go home, out of pocket. Not such a good idea.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ill pay anything for my parents to be able to see their grandkids

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pointless, unless you can guarantee effectiveness before getting onboard a flight.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pointless, unless you can guarantee effectiveness before getting onboard a flight.

Yeah, unless you can catch absolutely every case before it gets on board, catching any of them is entirely "pointless", and a complete waste of time, and anyone who would even consider trying to consider catching anything less than 100% of cases is probably as mentally competent as someone who thinks it's a good idea to wear a mask even though they aren't 100% effective.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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