Montreal [Canada], January 5 (ANI): The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed deep frustration with Canada's new Covid-19 testing requirement for all arriving air travellers due to come into effect on January 7.
While the industry for months has been calling for systematic testing to re-open borders without quarantine measures, it said, these pleas have fallen on deaf ears, especially in Canada.
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.
"It is both callous and impractical to impose this new requirement on travellers at such short notice. Moreover, it is completely unrealistic to mandate that airlines check passengers' compliance with the new rule, as it cannot be the airline's role to determine if a passenger tried their utmost to get tested or not," said IATA in a statement.
It said Canada already has one the world's most draconian Covid-19 border control regimes, including travel bans and quarantines.
Even though Covid-19 testing is an internationally accepted risk-mitigation strategy, there are no plans to adjust the current 14-day quarantine rule nor eliminate the temperature checks airlines are required to perform on passengers wishing to travel to Canada.
"Moreover, no explanation has been provided as to why a PCR test is the only acceptable test, given that this is not readily available in many countries."
IATA said the severe economic consequences of the prolonged border closure are already evident. Latest estimates show that the aviation sector's direct GDP contribution to Canada's economy dropped by 10.39 billion US dollars in 2020 versus 2019, placing some 146,000 Canadian jobs at risk.
The year-on-year fall in GDP contribution to the wider travel and tourism economy is estimated at 21.29 billion US dollars with some 286,000 jobs at risk. (ANI)