MIAMI – Pre-flight testing for coronavirus only makes sense if it is delivered before passengers arrive at airports. Such is the view of Ryanair (FR) group chief executive Michael O’Leary.
Speaking at the World Travel Market conference on November 10, O’Leary said, “It’s too late, it takes too long, and what do you do in the middle of a terminal when you’ve a couple of positive tests?” He adds, however, that “we’re generally supportive of pre-departure testing.” But it should be within “72 hours or 36 hours” of departure.
Under such a system, “people should come to airports with negative tests”, he explains. “Certainly in short-haul within Europe, we can go back to flying with reasonable confidence, with reasonable security”, without the patchwork of quarantine requirements that currently exists across the FR network.
An article on flightglobal.com notes that O’Leary also desires mass testing of the general population within individual countries. His feeling is that this would help to control the spread of the virus. In recent weeks, Ryanair has criticized the policies adopted by the Irish and UK governments around Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Lobbying for an International Standard
In the wider industry, airlines body IATA and airports association ACI World have lobbied for an internationally-recognized pre-flight testing regime to replace quarantine requirements for arriving passengers.
Their proposals to the European Union, made in mid-September in conjunction with airlines body A4E, suggested both pre-airport and at-airport testing as viable options.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced in late October that they are working on a common testing protocol for travelers within the EU, with their proposals due soon.
Featured image: Michael O’Leary. Photo: wiki Commons