Austrian Airlines is the latest airline (joining others, like Lufthansa) demanding that a comprehensive COVID-19 testing strategy replace travel bans and entry quarantines.
In a statement, Austrian Airlines CEO von Hoensbroech stated, “The freedom to travel is an important cornerstone of our modern-day society which should not be curtailed in the long term. Whoever is healthy and not infected should also be allowed to travel…”
Various airlines sent a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence and Ylva Johansson, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner, demanding that a cost-effective, efficient testing plan be established so that travel between the European continent and America can resume.
While the idea sounds great, there’s a catch 22 that could hinder plans. If standard testing procedures were used. where patients have to wait days to get results, then that allows more time for the potential traveler to become infected before their flight. Rapid tests could be performed on the spot, but they are less accurate.
Another issue that arises is, who pays for the test? A recent BBC article states that the UK is considering making passengers pay for the testing they’ll receive upon landing. Depending on the price of the tests, this too could hinder the number of travelers willing to pay such a fee (The UK has not yet determined a price).
However, one thing is clear. The US is one of the most valuable travel markets in the world, and without a comprehensive plan for testing, reopening travel will be virtually impossible due to the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus in the USA.