The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling for the development and deployment of Covid-19 testing for all passengers before departure. IATA sees this as the only realistic alternative to quarantine measures which are “killing the industry’s recovery.”.

IATA says it “did not come to this decision lightly” and recognised that the challenge of developing and deploying rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic were considerable.”

Nevertheless, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said that “if you look at the uptake in travel since the cautious re-opening of borders beginning in June, the results have been dismally disappointing. International travel was at just 8 per cent of its year-ago levels in July.”

De Juniac said there were few signs of improvements in August. And “it is hard to see a major uptick in corporate travel amid the concerns of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Citing research, it said that “Some 83 per cent of travellers in a recent 11-market survey said that they will not travel if there is a chance of being quarantined at their destination. That is a very clear signal that this industry will not recover until we can find an alternative to quarantine.”

IATA’s intention is to work through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and with health authorities to implement testing, which it believes could be as inexpensive as $10 per test, paid for by governments, and which could provide results as quickly as 15 minutes.

De Junaic said that “The economic cost of the breakdown in global connectivity makes investing in a border-opening testing solution a priority for governments. The human suffering and global economic pain of the crisis will be prolonged if the aviation industry—on which at least 65.5 million jobs depend—collapses before the pandemic ends. And the amount of government support needed to avert such a collapse is rising. Already lost revenues are expected to exceed $400 billion and the industry was set to post a record net loss of over $80 billion in 2020 under a more optimistic rebound scenario than has actually unfolded.”

IATA believes that Covid-19 testing before departure is the preferred option as it “creates a “clean” environment throughout the travel process [while] testing on arrival dents passenger confidence with the potential for quarantine at destination in the event of a positive result.”