All international travellers should be able to take a rapid Covid-19 test before their flights, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) proposed on Tuesday.
Passengers would then no longer need to quarantine upon arrival, said Alexandre de Juniac, the head of the aviation industry group. The hope is that this step would entice would-be travellers to book tickets again.
IATA has been looking for ways to rescue its airlines, which have seen a catastrophic fall in business due to the pandemic. Global passenger numbers in July were only 8% of what they were one year ago.
IATA is in talks with governments and the UN aviation agency ICAO on pre-boarding tests.
The airline industry's proposal is based on the assumption that so-called rapid antigen tests that cost less than 11 dollars each will be available in October.
IATA expects that the tests, which do not require medical personnel, will yield results with 99% accuracy within 15 minutes.
Early stage of Covid-19
Passengers who refuse to be tested should not be able to board their flights, de Juniac told a press conference.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antigen tests are at their most reliable when they are used to detect patients before they start showing symptoms or in the early stage of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Once Covid-19 symptoms have already lasted for several days, the risk of false negative test results rises.