With authorities around the world struggling to break the coronavirus quarantine deadlock, this week’s travel news round-up takes a closer look at the latest initiatives by the aviation industry to help passengers take to the skies once again.
A new coronavirus gargle test developed in Israel is due to be piloted in two European airports in the coming weeks. The SpectraLIT test promises more rapid results and eliminates the need for swabbing and lab processing, with passengers simply gargling a special mouthwash.
United Airlines has announced it will become the first US carrier to offer its own rapid COVID-19 tests. The programme will offer tests to travellers flying between Hawaii and San Francisco, with those testing negative allowed to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
At Helsinki Airport, staff are taking a novel new approach to preventing the spread of coronavirus. A team of 10 specially trained dogs have been deployed to sniff out potential COVID-19 carriers. The airport is trialling the scheme after a study by the Veterinary Faculty in Helsinki suggested trained dogs can detect COVID-19 with nearly 100% certainty.
While these innovations have been widely welcomed, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Alexandre de Juniac this week issued a global call to governments and health authorities to integrate systematic COVID-19 testing at airports to save the travel industry. Mr de Juniac said quarantine measures are ‘killing the industry’s recovery’, with a recent market survey revealing 83% of travellers would not travel if there was a chance of being quarantined at their destination.
As the fight against coronavirus continues, airlines and airports have also been promoting their green credentials this week. Airbus has revealed plans to develop the world’s first commercial zero-emission aircraft. The three ZEROe concept planes will be fuelled by hydrogen from renewable or low-carbon sources, and could be in service from as early as 2035. Meanwhile, AGS Airports has become the first UK airport group to trial new Oxo-Biodegradable security bags at its Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.
On the more uplifting side of the news, a baby born during an airborne EgyptAir flight has been given free flights for life by the airline. The pilots of the Cairo to London flight had to make an emergency diversion to Munich when Yemeni passenger Hiyam Nasr Naji Daaban went into labour, with the baby girl delivered before the plane could land. EgyptAir has now promised to make their own special delivery to the lucky newborn – a free lifetime travel ticket.