The International Air Transport Association (IATA), citing new research that the organization itself commissioned, is urging governments around the world to accept best-in-class rapid antigen COVID-19 tests as a way to return air travel to its 2019 numbers.
Currently, the year-long coronavirus pandemic has cost airlines half their capacity compared to 2019, although that figure is slowly rising after being as low as 90 percent off in April of 2020.
The research was done by OXERA and Edge Health, according to IATA .
The report cited several factors that found the rapid antigen tests to be most effective, including their accuracy, convenience and cost-efficiency. More importantly, however, the tests will provide confidence to airlines, travelers and governments alike that flying is safe.
“Restarting international aviation will energize the economic recovery from COVID-19. Along with vaccines, testing will play a critical role in giving governments the confidence to re-open their borders to travelers,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “For governments, the top priority is accuracy. But travelers will also need tests to be convenient and affordable. The OXERA-Edge Health report tells us that the best-in-class antigen tests can tick all these boxes. It’s important for governments to consider these findings as they make plans for a re-start.”
Another good reason for the rapid tests – testing requirements are currently fragmented, which is confusing to travelers. Moreover, many governments do not allow rapid testing. If the only options available for travelers are PCR tests, these come with significant costs disadvantages and inconvenience.
And in some parts of the world, PCR testing capacity is limited, with first priority correctly given to clinical use.
“Travelers need options. Including antigen testing among acceptable tests will certainly give strength to the recovery,” de Juniac said. “And the EU’s specification of acceptable antigen tests offers a good baseline for wider international harmonization of acceptable standards. We now need to see governments implement these recommendations. The goal is to have a clear set of testing options that are medically effective, financially accessible, and practically available to all prospective travelers.”