Belgian travel and aviation sector call for introduction of antigen testing for travellers at airports


ABTO, Air Belgium, A4E, BAR Belgium, BATA, BATM, Belgian Travel Organisation, Brussels Airport   Company, Brussels Hotels Association, Brussels South Charleroi Airport, CLIA, IATA, UPAV and VVR are calling on the Belgian government to introduce antigenic testing at airports to facilitate travel.

The Covid-19 crisis is affecting the aviation industry in an unprecedented way and has become a matter of survival. The tourism and travel industry, airlines, airports, all the players in these sectors are asking the Belgian government for the urgent implementation of antigenic tests in airports instead of quarantine, in order to facilitate travel.

According to IATA, the steep reduction in air traffic is of the order of 70% over the whole of 2020. The slight upturn observed during the summer has quickly reversed, the resurgence of Covid 19, the closure of borders and the deterioration of the economic situation have led to a sharp reduction in air transport demand for the coming months and have confronted the travel and aviation stakeholder with increased uncertainties.

Several hubs of major European airports (Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, London…) and very recently Paris, are in the process of equipping themselves with antigenic tests to allow a rapid diagnosis. We call for a rapid and urgent implementation in Belgium. By concentrating on testing rather than quarantine, we are increasingly certain that the virus will not travel with passengers.

Currently, health constraints and rules concerning the opening of borders can still vary in Europe from one country to another. It is therefore urgent that the recent recommendation of the Council of the European Union to define risk areas in Europe by means of common mapping will as soon as possible be implemented in Belgium. More generally, an effort to standardise measures would enable passengers to travel and thus increase the level of activity of a heavily disaster-stricken industry fighting for its survival. In addition, aircraft manufacturers and IATA stress the low probability of contamination in aircraft, as the aircraft’s filtration system renews the air in a cabin every 2 to 3 minutes.

Despite the pandemic, all players must offer passengers a solution to travel in the best possible sanitary conditions: the deployment of antigenic tests on airport platforms is one solution.

André Orban: M. Sc. Engineering
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