The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been working with the WHO to set up a testing system that will replace compulsory quarantine to help to revive the airline industry.
The IATA which represents about 290 airlines globally is also working with the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Health Organization to set up a fast and scalable testing system.
“We need testing because we need to get rid of quarantines,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice president for the Asia Pacific. He continued saying “What we’ve seen so far is if there’s a 14-day quarantine, it’s the same as closing your borders.”
Clifford also said that IATA would, “prefer to see some testing before departure and ideally, if we can find countries with similar levels of Covid risk, much like Singapore and Hong Kong, then that takes away the need for further testing.”
Singapore and HK have agreed to open their borders to one another for the first time in 7 months and it also agreed to exempt people from undergoing compulsory quarantine to reinstate links with 2 of Asia’s financial hubs. Further details have not been provided.
The risk of passengers getting infected on a plane is very low said Clifford, this is due to airlines undergoing deeper sanitization of planes and it has cut back on in-flight catering and magazine. The chance of getting infected on board is lower than being struck by the lightning. “There have been a lot of measures airlines have taken to absolutely drive that chance down to as close to zero as we can get it. So, it’s a very safe environment indeed” said Clifford.
The IATA had forecasted that in June, the airlines will lose a combined of $84 billion this year and the number is said to increase as the virus cases are not going on a downward trend and the market has not opened yet. However, Clifford said that this year Cargo planes have been a silver lining due to an increase in online purchase which is said to continue for this and coming years. Air freight is expected to account for over 26% compared to 12% last year.