Airline association welcomes test proof moves

Moves across the world to implement the need for proof of negative COVID tests before passengers can travel internationally have been welcomed by the world’s airlines’ association.

From Monday all passengers travelling to the UK will require a negative COVID test results prior to departure and in the US the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it will require all travellers to the US to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test undertaken within three days prior to their departure to the US, effective 26 January.

The UK has also banned travels to the country from the vast majority of South America and Portugal as of 4am this morning in an effort to avoid the spread of a new Brazilian strain of the virus which is said to be far more transmissible.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the announcement of the need for negative tests, believing it will be a major weapon in kick starting air travel in the months to come.

“Systematic pre-departure testing is key to giving governments confidence to reopen markets without quarantine,” said Douglas Lavin, IATA’s Vice President Member and External Relations, North America. “Testing will ensure that at current infection levels, aviation will not become a meaningful vector of new transmissions in the US. Furthermore, IATA traveller surveys show that passengers strongly support and are willing to undergo testing.”

IATA said it has been encouraged by the flexibility shown by CDC, in terms of accepting both antigen and PCR testing and in providing passengers who have already had COVID-19 the ability to demonstrate they are immune.

“As the efficacy of testing is confirmed, we need to move quickly to next steps—lifting travel restrictions which prevent travel from Europe and other key markets and removing quarantine requirements imposed by state and local governments in the US,” added Mr Lavin.

IATA said it is developing the IATA Travel Pass (ITP), a mobile app to manage information flows around requirements for COVID-19 testing and/or vaccine/immunity information. The ITP will enable travellers to receive and securely store encrypted data on their own mobile devices, including verified test or vaccination results, and to share this information with airlines and authorities. IATA urged the US government and international governments to make provision to accept test and immunity documents shared electronically via the ITP.

“While this order presents operational challenges, we will continue to work with CDC to achieve a smooth implementation. It definitely is a big step in the right direction,” said Mr Lavin.