Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
Despite calling for mass pre-departure testing for months, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has slammed the Canadian government over it’s hastily made decision to make passengers arriving in the country take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours. The requirement was announced on December 30 by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and will come into force on January 7.
But unlike some countries that make passengers take a COVID-19 test in order to either reduce or totally eliminate quarantine, Canada will still require the vast majority of international arrivals to self-isolate for 14-days once they land in the country. The airline industry instead wants pre-departure testing as an alternative to quarantine.
“What is the point of implementing testing if it does not result in a lifting of border closures nor quarantine requirements?” blasted an IATA spokesperson on Saturday. “After nine-months of closed borders and confinement, we cannot afford to move in the wrong direction with the disastrous implementation of a counter-productive testing policy,” a withering statement from the world’s airline trade body continued.
IATA represents more than 290 airlines worldwide including Air Canada, Westjet and Air Transat. The trade group has repeatedly warned about the severe economic impact that border closures and quarantine restrictions are having on the aviation industry but has made little headway in convincing governments to implement its recommendations.
Canada announced its even tougher entry requirements after new, highly transmissible variants of the novel Coronavirus were discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa. All passengers aged five and over will have to provide proof of a negative molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test dated within 72-hours of travel.
In an attempt to head off criticism that some passengers will be locked out because PCR testing is still hard to come by in some countries, the Canadian government announced that it would still allow passengers in who can’t get a test but they’ll be required to quarantine in an institutional isolation facility.
“While the industry for months has been calling for systematic testing to re-open borders without quarantine measures, these pleas have fallen on deaf ears, especially in Canada,” IATA commented.
“Now, in a decision that can only be described as the ‘worst of both worlds’, the government is mandating that passengers provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours before planned departure to Canada, while at the same time declining to lift existing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.”
IATA claims Canada’s “draconian” COVID-19 border control regime could cost 146,000 Canadian jobs, along with a US$10.39 billion to the country’s economy.
And the criticism didn’t stop there. IATA described the Trudeau administration’s “tunnel-vision policies” as having a “tragic” impact on families and criticized the government’s decision only to allow more expensive, time-consuming PCR tests which aren’t readily available in every country.
But despite IATA singling out Canada over its new entry requirements, it certainly isn’t the only country to have introduced these rules. The likes of South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong – all of which have been praised for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, require pre-departure testing and mandatory quarantine.
And with Coronavirus cases surging in many countries, some governments are preparing to batten down the hatches while they wait for vaccines to be rolled out at record speed.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.