COVID-19 testing before international travel would end need for restrictive quarantine measures
ACI World has today reinforced industry calls for the widespread deployment of COVID-19 testing of international passengers before travel as an alternative to restrictive quarantine measures.
As a result of the pandemic, ACI recently revealed that the airport industry is anticipating global passenger numbers to decrease by 5.6 billion with an unprecedented $104.5 billion reduction in revenue, in 2020.
Airports represent 60% of aviation jobs and local economies have been heavily affected by the reduction of activity.
Many international borders remain closed, and in many cases international passengers are still subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine where some travel is possible.
To better support recovery efforts, ACI has called for urgent government action to introduce widespread and coordinated testing of international passengers – based on internationally accepted protocols and on a risk-based and resource-effective approach – to enable quarantine requirements to be removed.
IATA this week called for COVID-19 testing for passengers before departure as an alternative to quarantine. ACI supports this call subject, however, to the availability of effective and accurate methods of testing and on the option of running it off-airport before travel to ensure better efficiency of travel and create a smooth testing process.
“Quarantine and unilateral decisions from governments are destroying efforts to restore air connectivity and, without the lifting of travel restrictions and quarantine, the aviation industry cannot rebuild and will not be able to drive the global economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic,” notes ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira.
“Testing will allow people to travel in a safe and efficient manner without increasing the risk of infection or the fear of unnecessary quarantine. Government action is urgently required to establish globally harmonised testing measures to foster a coordinated recovery while providing reassurance to travellers.
“To ensure efficiency and the smooth movement of travellers, testing cannot be done exclusively at the airport. Other options include testing conducted off-airport, pre-travel, always using a risk-based approach to take into account local conditions.”
The aviation industry came together to promote the widespread implementation of ICAO’s Take-off Guidance but inconsistent and ever-changing border restrictions – along with confusion about quarantine requirements at a national level – have caused frustration for both businesses and travellers and dampened confidence in air travel.
“Working together across the industry and hand in hand with ICAO and international health organisations is a must,” add de Oliveira. “This is the only way to develop a global approach to testing that will help establish consistent and workable procedures.”
ACI – on behalf of airports – has also strongly urged governments to work bilaterally to develop air bridges to enable services to restart where there is demand.