LONDON – The Chief Medical Adviser for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has stated the airline industry can’t afford to wait for a vaccine.

Speaking to Bloomberg News was David Powell, who emphasized the need for a COVID test that is fast and reliable.“The ideal protection is to avoid people who are infectious.”

“We need a test that’s reliable and fast enough and that’s able to be done in huge numbers.”

Photo: TripSaavy

A Monumental Challenge

At the moment, the need for tests that are fast and reliable is something that is proving to be substantially difficult. Manufacturers of COVID tests are struggling to meet the demand for test-kits.

An example of the challenge the industry needs to tackle was seen between Singapore and China, where a passenger was infected on a flight and in turn, infected everybody else.

The Singaporean Government stated that most of the people had recovered. However, the message was that people “may continue to shed viral fragments for weeks or even months,” leading to more positive test results.

Photo: CNBC

More Bruising To Come?

IATA claims that passenger traffic will not recover until at least 2024, due to the ongoing pandemic. It is understood that airlines are expected to lose more than $84bn this year alone. With COVID-19 being a new virus, there was also confusion about what people should do.

In February, Powell told people to keep washing their hands frequently, and then by May, face masks became universally mandatory. “We recognize that a percentage of Covid cases can be asymptomatic”, he said earlier this week. “That’s the reason for that change in position.”

The level of uncertainty behind this will no doubt bruise the industry further. If consumers do not know what the clear-cut strategy is, then trips abroad will be avoided more significantly.

Photo: Conde Nast Traveler

IATA Recommendations

For now, IATA is recommending that airlines cooperate with governments globally and urges relief measures to continue throughout the Winter. The organization has also released the criteria for COVID-19 testing to make detection of the virus easier.

Alternatives to quarantine have also been suggested by the body, including testing the passenger before they even set foot in the departure airport.

It remains clear that for IATA, the restoration of air travel is a significant priority. For many countries globally, economies rely on the industry to bring in business, tourism, and more.

Only time will tell to see what governments will do to try and mitigate the spread of the virus and how quickly the industry can get out of this troublesome situation.


Featured Image: Airbus A380. Photo Credit: The Independent