Airports Council International (ACI) World this week reinforced industry calls for the widespread deployment of COVID-19 testing of international passengers before travel as an alternative to the current restrictive quarantine measures.

With international borders still closed, and many international passengers still subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine when they do travel, ACI urged governments to introduce coordinated passenger testing – based on internationally accepted protocols and using a risk-based and resource-effective approach – to enable quarantine requirements to be removed.

“Quarantine and unilateral decisions from governments are destroying efforts to restore air connectivity and, without the lifting of travel restrictions and quarantine, the aviation industry cannot rebuild and will not be able to drive the global economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic,” said, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World director general. “Testing will allow people to travel in a safe and efficient manner without increasing the risk of infection or the fear of unnecessary quarantine.”

ACI also said that testing cannot be done exclusively at the airport, suggesting other options such as testing conducted off-airport, pre-travel, while always using a risk-based approach to take into account local conditions.

The ACI statement echoes the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which called for COVID-19 testing for passengers before departure as an alternative to quarantine.

“Working together across the industry and hand in hand with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and international health organizations is a must,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “This is the only way to develop a global approach to testing that will help establish consistent and workable procedures.”