IATA aims for quarantine-free travel; Consults WHO and ICAO for revised protocols

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Airports with COVID Precautions
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The global trade association of the airline industry, International Air Transport Association (IATA) is reportedly working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to create a COVID-19 testing regime to replace current mandatory quarantine measures to revive the ailing industry from the pandemic induced slowdown. 

Mr. Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Asia Pacific revealed that the body which represents close to 290 airlines across the globe is in consultation with International Civil Aviation Organisation and WHO to implement a scalable, affordable and fast testing system.

“We need testing because we need to get rid of quarantines,” Mr. Clifford answered further elaborating that “What we’ve seen so far is if there’s a 14-day quarantine, it’s the same as closing your borders.”

Mr. Clifford remarked that IATA would “prefer to see some testing before departure” and ideally if they can find countries like Singapore and Hong Kong which have similar levels of COVID risk, it takes away the need for further testing while traveling among those countries.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong agreed last week to establish a ‘travel bubble’ among them to facilitate travel between Asia’s two premier financial hubs after close to seven months. Under the arrangement, people in both cities would not have to go through mandated quarantine. Specifics of the arrangement which is expected to begin in weeks are yet to be made public.

The IATA Official opined that ideally, the required COVID-19 tests to go ahead with the agency’s recommended plan should not cost more than $10.