IATA Releases Criteria for COVID-19 Testing by Airlines

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released criteria for the use of COVID-19 testing in air travel process.

The body said should governments choose to introduce COVID-19 testing for travelers arriving from countries considered as high risk, testing must deliver results fast, be able to be conducted at scale, and operate to very high rates of accuracy. Additionally, testing must be cost-effective and not create an economic or logistical barrier to travel.

IATA said the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) published Takeoff guidance, which is the global guidance for governments to follow in reconnecting their people and economies by air. Takeoff outlined layers of measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel and the risk of importation of COVID-19 via air travel. COVID-19 testing should not be a necessary condition for re-opening borders or resuming air services.

Technology for rapid point-of-care Polymerised Chain Reaction (PCR) testing could be a useful layer of protection for travelers from countries considered as higher risk, potentially removing the need for more burdensome and intrusive measures such as quarantine which is a major barrier to travel and the recovery of demand.

“Airlines are committed to reducing the risks of COVID-19 transmission via air travel and COVID-19 testing could play an important role. But it must be implemented in line with ICAO’s global re-start guidance with the aim of facilitating travel.

“Speed, scale and accuracy are the most critical performance criteria for testing to be effectively incorporated into the travel process,” said, IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.