“Testing+” blueprint aims to kick-start COVID-free flying

PRESS RELEASE (26 October 2020)

Aviation consultancy SimpliFlying today released a whitepaper to help air travellers return to the skies with confidence. Testing+ is a 10-point blueprint for air travel to happen in a way which benefits local economies and saves jobs without further spreading the virus.

While different industry bodies are pushing for widespread testing before departure, SimpliFlying believes that on its own this is not enough.  

As the aim needs to be to have as few infectious people flying as possible, a more comprehensive health safety regime is needed, with testing as the centrepiece.

Some of the ten steps include:

  • Introducing electronic pre-travel authorizations, to screen out higher risk travellers before they even get to the airport
  • Testing before departure, becoming mandatory for all. 
  • A test on arrival for some.  SimpliFlying advocates a second test for arrivals from ‘red’ countries.  These second tests may be carried out after a five day quarantine period by certain jurisdictions. 
  • The pre-departure testing window needs to be shrunk to less than 24 hours, so that testing is as accurate as possible.
  • Cheaper, faster tests need to be introduced, without sacrificing accuracy.  SimpliFlying’s white paper lists some concerns around fast antigen tests due to questions about their ability to detect asymptomatic cases.  Any test used should also come from an industry improved registry of tests that have been independently validated to work.
  • Bio-safety measures such as touchless travel, need to continue.  There also needs to be an effective track and trace system in place for two weeks after the passenger arrives.
  • The final part of SimpliFlying’s Testing + blueprint looks at the need for advocacy programmes with Governments, local and regional authorities as well as the wider public, to build confidence in the measures proposed.

According to SimpliFlying research director, Dirk Singer, Our Testing+ blueprint is realistic.  It will allow airlines to fly again.  Yet, it is rigorous, because it needs to be.”  

“A half baked plan where the focus is purely on getting as many people flying as possible will quickly fall apart, causing the doors to slam shut again. The result will then be a further erosion of  confidence in the industry, more hits to economies, and more people out of work.”

For its research, SimpliFlying used as a baseline, the on-going trials conducted by Toronto Pearson Airport and Air Canada with McMaster Health Labs, involving 13,000 passengers.  Of those, 1% had the virus, and 80% of them were caught with a first on arrival test (the other 20% were detected after a week’s quarantine.)

“80% is excellent, but it also shows that some passengers may still be infected just before they fly, and that even with the best tests there are a small number of false negatives”, says Dirk Singer.

“As a result, we need to close that gap. This is why we are recommending that testing on departure for all, and testing on arrival for some, be supplemented by a number of other measures.  We are also recommending a clear communications plan, that gives key stakeholders the confidence that aviation is taking its responsibility seriously from stopping the virus from spreading.”

To download the whitepaper follow this link.

To learn more about our Testing+ consultancy solution, click here.

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