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Australia’s aviation industry wants Covid barriers to travel removed

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It’s one of the biggest hurdles to restarting the tourism industry and now the world’s airlines are fighting to do away with Covid tests all together.

Borders are open again and fully vaccinated Aussies are free to travel to most of the world but there’s still one hurdle that is stopping a lot of people from holidaying overseas again.

A negative Covid PCR test is required for some international flights departing Australia and while the PCR tests are free for Australians at home, for Aussies wanting to go overseas, they need to pay.

The PCR tests to get overseas are done by private pathology labs and can cost anywhere from $80 to $300.

Other airlines and destination countries are only requiring a negative rapid antigen test while other nations, including the UK and Switzerland, no longer have any testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

Histopath, a private pathology lab, currently offers the cheapest PCR tests with locations at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Airports and the test costing $79.

Despite labs managing to get their costs down over the past two years, airlines are continuing to fight for the tests to either be thrown out all together, or at least be subsidised by the government, arguing the extra cost is a barrier to people going overseas.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has repeatedly called for PCR tests to be thrown out for airline passengers but has renewed its appeal in light of the milder Omicron strain.

“The current situation of travel restrictions is a mess,” IATA director-general Willie Walsh said yesterday.

“There is one problem – Covid-19 – but there seem to be more unique solutions to managing travel and Covid-19 than there are countries to travel to.”

Mr Walsh said Omicron was already present in all parts of the world.

“The billions spent testing travellers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or strengthening health care systems,” he said.

Recent research from the Migration Policy Institute counted more than 100,000 travel measures around the world “that create complexity for passengers, airlines and governments to manage”, Mr Walsh said.

“We have two years of experience to guide us on a simplified and co-ordinated path to normal travel when Covid-19 is endemic. That normality must recognise that travellers, with very few exceptions, will present no greater risk than exists in the general population. And that’s why travellers should not be subject to any greater restrictions than are applied to the general community.”

Australia’s aviation industry has also backed the removal of the final Covid barriers.

Australian Airports Association chief executive James Goodwin told The Australian that testing should be dropped for people without Covid symptoms.

“As the world population becomes more vaccinated, it is important we start to ease and then end testing for international travel,” he told the publication.

“Australia needs to safely reopen to the rest of the world to enable families to reconnect and allow the economy to start to recover.”

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also lobbying for the government to help the tourism industry and remove Covid barriers.

Chief executive Andrew McKellar told Today this morning that the federal government needed to hold urgent talks.

“Look, what we‘re urging here is that the government now starts to talk directly to the industry and takes the steps or at least puts forward the plan as to when we can fully reopen the international borders,” he told the breakfast program.

“As you say, it‘s been a very long time that they’ve been shut.

“The tourism industry which is a huge industry, it‘s a $60 billion a year contribution to our gross domestic product, it’s employing more than 600,000 Australians.”


It’s one of the biggest hurdles to restarting the tourism industry and now the world’s airlines are fighting to do away with Covid tests all together.

Borders are open again and fully vaccinated Aussies are free to travel to most of the world but there’s still one hurdle that is stopping a lot of people from holidaying overseas again.

A negative Covid PCR test is required for some international flights departing Australia and while the PCR tests are free for Australians at home, for Aussies wanting to go overseas, they need to pay.

The PCR tests to get overseas are done by private pathology labs and can cost anywhere from $80 to $300.

Other airlines and destination countries are only requiring a negative rapid antigen test while other nations, including the UK and Switzerland, no longer have any testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

Histopath, a private pathology lab, currently offers the cheapest PCR tests with locations at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Airports and the test costing $79.

Despite labs managing to get their costs down over the past two years, airlines are continuing to fight for the tests to either be thrown out all together, or at least be subsidised by the government, arguing the extra cost is a barrier to people going overseas.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has repeatedly called for PCR tests to be thrown out for airline passengers but has renewed its appeal in light of the milder Omicron strain.

“The current situation of travel restrictions is a mess,” IATA director-general Willie Walsh said yesterday.

“There is one problem – Covid-19 – but there seem to be more unique solutions to managing travel and Covid-19 than there are countries to travel to.”

Mr Walsh said Omicron was already present in all parts of the world.

“The billions spent testing travellers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or strengthening health care systems,” he said.

Recent research from the Migration Policy Institute counted more than 100,000 travel measures around the world “that create complexity for passengers, airlines and governments to manage”, Mr Walsh said.

“We have two years of experience to guide us on a simplified and co-ordinated path to normal travel when Covid-19 is endemic. That normality must recognise that travellers, with very few exceptions, will present no greater risk than exists in the general population. And that’s why travellers should not be subject to any greater restrictions than are applied to the general community.”

Australia’s aviation industry has also backed the removal of the final Covid barriers.

Australian Airports Association chief executive James Goodwin told The Australian that testing should be dropped for people without Covid symptoms.

“As the world population becomes more vaccinated, it is important we start to ease and then end testing for international travel,” he told the publication.

“Australia needs to safely reopen to the rest of the world to enable families to reconnect and allow the economy to start to recover.”

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also lobbying for the government to help the tourism industry and remove Covid barriers.

Chief executive Andrew McKellar told Today this morning that the federal government needed to hold urgent talks.

“Look, what we‘re urging here is that the government now starts to talk directly to the industry and takes the steps or at least puts forward the plan as to when we can fully reopen the international borders,” he told the breakfast program.

“As you say, it‘s been a very long time that they’ve been shut.

“The tourism industry which is a huge industry, it‘s a $60 billion a year contribution to our gross domestic product, it’s employing more than 600,000 Australians.”

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