IATA’s Willie Walsh deplores COVID-19 test profiteering

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Speaking at the World Aviation Festival virtual event, newly-appointed IATA director Willie Walsh commented on the current situation for passengers, and the “new normal” for the business going ahead.

According to IATA, one of the main obstacles ahead for the recovery of air travel is the cumbersome passenger experience amid the pandemic.“Airports will not be able to function unless we can give a digital solution,” said Walsh. “Currently it is chaos, for people to carry their luggage while looking for their PCR paper test results at the counter.”

That situation motivated IATA to roll out the Travel Pass. The app, currently being tested by IATA, creates a digital passport accessible directly on passengers’ smartphones, to verify that their test or vaccination complies with local regulations in order to facilitate travel. “We want to offer the possibility for people to go through their airport as seamlessly as before, and critically avoid any bottleneck on arrival.”

The other aspect detrimental to the recovery in demand is the price. “The cost of testing should be significantly lower than it is,” said Walsh. “We’re clearly seeing evidence of profiteering by people who have jumped on the testing bandwagon. […] Everybody in the industry should be fighting back.”

Going forward, Walsh expects the post-COVID-19 aviation industry to be “smaller, more cautious, but equally competitive,” with a strong recovery in the second half of 2021. IATA’s director applauded the efforts of the industry to remain committed to spending more money looking for more efficient ways of addressing the environmental problem, despite the financial crisis. 

Former chief executive of IAG, Willie Walsh took office as IATA’s Director General in April 2021, taking over from Alexandre de Juniac.


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