Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Global aviation bodies urge governments to replace quarantine with Covid-19 testing

The grounding of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic had a catastrophic impact on employment, ACI World and Iata say

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of Iata, said systemic testing is the key to restoring connectivity. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National 
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of Iata, said systemic testing is the key to restoring connectivity. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National 

Governments should focus on replacing quarantine measures with "systematic testing" of international passengers to help the aviation industry recover from the pandemic induced crisis, according to two international organisations representing the aviation industry.

“Governments must cooperate to remove quarantine restrictions and restart air travel,” the Airports Council International (ACI) World and International Air Transport Association (Iata) said in a joint statement on Thursday. “A systematic approach to Covid-19 testing will provide an effective way to give governments the confidence to re-open borders without quarantine.”

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the global travel and tourism industries to a near-halt and has tipped the global economy into a recession, expected to be the deepest since the Great Depression, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Systematic testing is the key to restoring connectivity,” Iata’s director-general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac, said. “That’s critical because millions of jobs depend on aviation. And millions more travellers want and need to reconnect with family, take a hard-earned vacation or support their international business needs.”

Some 4.8 million industry jobs have been lost or are under threat as countries restrict air traffic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, ACI World and Iata added.

Many airlines have either furloughed their workers or cut jobs to deal with the pandemic. Some have received billions in state aid but are increasingly facing operational challenges due to a weak travel outlook amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Singapore's Changi Airport, often touted the world’s best, cautioned the coronavirus pandemic presented a “daunting” situation, which is showing "no signs of abatement”.

“Airports and airlines are united in the view that a consistent approach to testing passengers will help to restore the confidence of passengers, avoid border closures, and remove cumbersome quarantine measures which are hampering the genuine efforts of the aviation industry to recover,” ACI World director-general Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said.

Last month, Iata cut its forecast for this year's traffic growth to an average decline of 66 per cent year-on-year, from a previous estimate of 63 per cent due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Updated: October 8, 2020 08:30 PM

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