Iata’s new boss had slammed “profiteering” by Covid test providers and warned of the need to digitise health passes to avoid chaos at airports.
Iata director general Willie Walsh branded the cost of testing as “unacceptable”.
Walsh, previously chief executive of IAG, parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia, added:
“We are clearly seeing evidence of profiteering by people that have jumped on the testing bandwagon and where governments are mandating testing and charging VAT.”
Speaking during World Aviation Festival Virtual, Walsh also criticised the UK’s testing requirements: “To come to the UK for three days, you have to buy a package in advance to test on days two and eight, even though you won’t be there on day eight. It’s a scam.”
He also questioned the need for the more expensive PCR test to be mandated. “We have to challenge whether the PCR test is necessary – we could be in a position where only the wealthier are in a position to travel.”
Walsh said lateral flow testing was nearly as effective as PCR if used as part of a package of anti-Covid travel measures and said he would argue in favour of the cheaper, faster test if used as part of this process.
He warned of long queues at airports once traffic returned if digital health passports were not introduced.
“Airports will not function unless we have this digital solution, particularly when volumes start coming back.”
Despite this, Walsh said he was optimistic about the second half of the summer and “very optimistic” about 2022 but warned: “We need governments to set out a plan as to when it is likely they will remove restrictions.”