IATA blames surge in cost of air travel on multiple COVID-19 tests

2 months ago 94

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global clearing house for airlines have raised the alarm on how the ongoing multiple COVID-19 testing in Nigeria and across other West African countries have contributed to the sudden increase in the cost of air tickets within the region.

While urging governments on the continent to quickly find a way of bringing down the unbearable costs of tickets, IATA insisted that the COVID-19 testing must not only be made affordable but also timely, widely available, and effective if the sector must survive.

While declaring that due to the high cost brought about by the multiple COVID-19 testing that huge numbers of those who used to regularly travel for leisure before the outbreak of the pandemic had greatly reduced, IATA discovered in its sampling of costs for PCR tests that the test most commonly required by governments in 16 countries, showed wide variations by markets and within markets.

In West Africa in particular, before the lockdown, many travelers have been struggling to cope with a surge in the price of tickets now have to contend with the multiple  mandatory COVID-19 tests for international air travel to all West African countries.

Many West African countries not only demand a negative COVID-19 test from a passenger’s country of departure, but also an additional test upon arrival at extra cost shouldered by the travelers.

Prior to the pandemic, it was discovered that West Africa flight travel was already cumbersome and expensive before COVID-19. a round trip from Lagos to Dubai that often cost $700 is however the same cost for a round trip from Lagos to Monrovia.

Defending the ongoing multiple  testing, the supporters are arguing that since COVID-19 tests are usually administered 3-7 days before departure, that the additional testing on arrival helps to assure countries that passengers did not contact the virus in that period between testing and travel.

Just as it is being argued that the multiple tests have become inevitable in the midst of the ongoing stories surrounding issuance of false or fake COVID-19  results for travel in some countries which has resulted in a lack of trust in results not issued by the country of arrival.

The high cost of aviation fuel, high taxes, and government policies are among the major reasons why travel within West Africa remains expensive.

While the cost of COVID-19 tests have been found to be expensive for most West Africans, the World Bank in its findings in 2020 revealed that the gross national income per capita of twelve of the fifteen members of ECOWAS stood at less than $2,500 at less than $, 300 with eight of the 12 standing at less than $1, 300.

Countries like Liberia has made efforts to discourage additional increase on travels through cheaper COVID-19 test as low as $50 for travel to an ECOWAS country as opposed to $80 charged for a test to travel outside West Africa. Similarly, Ghana charges ECOWAS citizens $50 for a test upon arrival in Ghana as opposed to $150 to other nationalities.

The cost of a traveler’s Covid-19 test ranges between $40-$100 in most West African countries, meaning that a round trip now requires a traveler to pay $200 total for two tests.

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