Vienna airport to offer PCR tests for COVID-19, will this be the future of flying?

Vienna Airport
Image Credits: Vienna Airport

Coming close to the heels of Emirates becoming the first airline to conduct a pre-flight COVID-19 test, Vienna airport has announced a facility to offer PCR tests for detecting Coronavirus. Austria mandates a 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving by any mode of transport from outside the country.

Starting today, passengers arriving at Vienna airport will be asked to show a COVID-19 negative certificate or go in quarantine for fourteen days. The certificate cannot be older than four days. The airport is now providing for a PCR test at the airport with the results being available within a couple of hours. With a negative test, there would no longer be a requirement for quarantine.

The tests are priced at EUR 190 as per the airport’s website. These tests can also be taken by passengers who are departing from Vienna, if their destination country/city demands a negative COVID-19 certificate.

Vienna airport is the largest in Austria and is home to Austrian Airlines. While Austrian has recently extended the grounding from 17th May to 31st May for passenger operations and would be converting two B777s for all cargo operations by removing passenger seats. Currently passenger flights are being operated to Doha, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Lisbon, Minsk and Sofia as per the airport’s website.

While this facility starts, the country continues to discourage passengers from outside Schengen area unless they have a valid residency permit. The landing ban on flights from specified risk areas also remains in effect.

Travel continues to remain challenging in current times even with a PCR test on arrival. In case the passenger is found to be COVID-19 positive, this puts at risk all other passengers who have flown in the same flight. There also isn’t a consensus on how soon the corona virus can be detected in a PCR test.

Will this be the way forward?

At current exchange rates, the cost of the test is equivalent to INR 16,000. Going forward with the new normal in place in absence of a vaccine, could this be the way forward for all airports? While there will be a massive slump in travel, the costs are prohibitive.

In absence of a vaccine or medicine, for considerable time if airports, airlines and countries start making a COVID-19 negative certificate mandatory, a test at the airport with rapid results could be the new norm. But this will require the test costs to come down drastically.

In every adversity is an opportunity for ancillary revenue and a fast forward to the test or a priority lane could well be charged extra!

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