Global airline alliance calls for rapid COVID-19 testing to restore air travel

Kalila Sangster
·2 min read
AMSTERDAM, 30-01-2020 ,Schiphol Airport Dutchnews, plane Skyteam Delta (Photo by Pro Shots/Sipa USA)
SkyTeam wants rapid COVID-19 testing to restore air travel after the pandemic has brought the industry to crisis point. Photo: Pro Shots/Sipa USA

Global airline alliance SkyTeam is calling for standardised COVID-19 testing before departure to restore international air travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

SkyTeam and its 19 members, which include Delta Air Lines (DAL), Air France (AF.PA), KLM (KLMR), and China Eastern Airlines (0670.HK), are supporting the enhancement and implementation of testing protocols, both before departure and on arrival where necessary.

The alliance wants to “enable the safe reopening of borders and offer an effective alternative to quarantines,” after COVID-19 travel restrictions have brought the airline industry to its knees.

The move comes after the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) called for reliable COVID-19 rapid testing before departure in order to re-establish global air connectivity.

SkyTeam said they believe scalable and reliable rapid COVID-19 testing, implemented in cooperation with local airport authorities and governmental bodies, will enable borders to reopen safely “while offering customers greater peace of mind.”

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Walter Cho, chairman of the SkyTeam Alliance Board, highlighted that “with international passenger numbers down 92% versus last year, there is an urgent need to promote business recovery by restoring customer confidence in air travel through a globally standardised testing solution.”

The aviation sector continues to face an unprecedented crisis in coronavirus.

British Airways-owner IAG (IAG.L), EasyJet (EZJ.L), and Virgin Atlantic are among airlines that have announced tens of thousands of job cuts, while airports have swung to historic losses.

SkyTeam’s CEO, Kristin Colvile said: “Passenger testing would benefit not only our members but all airlines and the wider travel industry, by providing much-needed clarity to restore consumer confidence.

“It adds to the rigorous cleanliness measures that SkyTeam members have already implemented under our SkyCare & Protect pledge to ensure flying is as safe as possible.”

SkyTeam said its members have already put into practice a raft of personal safety measures to help protect customers and employees including more frequent sanitising of aircrafts, air purifying filters installed on aircrafts, mandatory face coverings for passengers and employees, frequent access to hand-sanitser stations and wipes and social distancing markers.