Poll: Is Effective Passenger Testing The Turnaround Factor To Restoring Air Travel?

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said the air transport industry has “turned a corner” in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, although that newfound optimism was not reflected in the carrier’s latest quarterly results.

Chicago-based United recorded a net loss of $1.8 billion in the 2020 third quarter (Q3), slightly larger than the prior quarter’s $1.6 billion deficit.

Despite the bruising quarterly result, United executives believe the company and industry have reached a crucial turning point in the pandemic recovery, boosted by key developments in pre-travel passenger testing and improved understanding of the low-risk of contracting COVID-19 in flight.

United’s improved outlook is supported by the roll-out of pre-departure COVID-19 tests, which the company hopes will be instrumental in stimulating international travel demand by removing the need for mandatory quarantines. On Oct. 15, the airline launched testing for passengers flying to Hawaii from San Francisco International (SFO), which it plans to use as a blueprint for replication in other international markets. By Spring 2021, management predicts testing will be widely available around the world, and governments will adopt consistent measures to reduce quarantines for customers who test negative.

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