High testing costs could slow recovery, says IATA

The organisation is asking international governments to make this more accessible and affordable for travellers

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling upon governments to ensure the cost of Covid-19 testing does not deter customers from travelling.

As international travel is beginning to restart, the organisation stated that test requirements must be affordable, timely, widely available and effective.

A survey was conducted by IATA to establish sampling costs of the PCR variation. It was found that France is the only country that complies with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation to cover the cost for customers.

London Stansted Airport
Photo London Stansted Airport 

Furthermore, the average amount for testing of an individual was found to be $90 (£65) minimum and $208 (£150) maximum.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, believes that high demand for travel could be “perilously compromised” by these additional fees. 

He said: “The impact will be greatest for short haul trips (up to 1,100 km), with average fares of $105 (£76), the tests will cost more than the flight. That’s not what you want to propose to travellers as we emerge from this crisis. Testing costs must be better managed. That’s critical if governments want to save tourism and transport jobs; and avoid limiting travel freedoms to the wealthy.”

By factoring in these additional charges, the amount spent of air travel dramatically increases. Compared to 2019 levels, it was found that an average return trip has risen from around $400 (£288) to $760 (£546).

IATA stress that family travel would be especially impacted, as each individual could require a test twice each way – doubling the price.

Governments should be expected to take on the financial burden of vaccination and certificates required for travel, according to the WHO. Its Covid-19 emergency committee recently stressed this point, stating that this costly strain should not be placed on international travellers.

“A successful restart of travel means so much to people—from personal job security to business opportunities and the need to see family and friends. Governments must act quickly to ensure that testing costs don’t stall a travel recovery,” explained Walsh.

It has also been speculated that high testing costs could incentivise the market for fake documentations.