Following the news that Indian airline IndiGo has collaborated with Stemz Healthcare to enable COVID-19 RT-PCR test for domestic as well international passengers; Animesh Kumar, Director of Travel & Tourism and Automotive Consulting at GlobalData, a leading research and consulting company, offers his view:
“Increasing consumer confidence is the only way for the travel and tourism industry and segments like airlines and hospitality to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The move by IndiGo to offer COVID-19 RT-PCR test along with flight bookings is in that direction. Globally, several destinations require the travelers to produce a negative COVID-19 test result either before the boarding or at the time of the arrival. The move allows the customers to opt for either a home test or visit an empanelled collection center.
“Airlines across the globe are coming up with measures to facilitate this process of getting tested and increasing the consumer confidence. Reportedly, Lufthansa is in discussions with Roche for deploying rapid antigen tests that can give results in minutes. In some of the routes, United Airlines is offering free COVID-19 testing.
“Customers in India are postponing their travel plans as they are concerned about getting infected by the virus in the closed environment of an aircraft cabin. If airlines offer rapid antigen tests at the airport and ensure that only those who have tested negative are allowed to board, it will help in elevating the consumer confidence. However, it would also be an operational nightmare and may not be feasible for all flights. ‘Negative-Only’ flights can be attempted on routes that are popular in the holiday seasons as that may provide the much-needed boost to all stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry.”