Planning to get an airport Covid test? It can cost you

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IATA is urging governments to cover the costs of required Covid-19 testing, which in some cases can be more than $400 per test.
IATA is urging governments to cover the costs of required Covid-19 testing, which in some cases can be more than $400 per test. Source: IATA

IATA is sounding the alarm about the price of Covid-19 tests at airports.

The airline industry trade group is also calling upon governments to cover the cost of the Covid-19 tests that they require for travel, in accord with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines stipulated last summer.

IATA chairman Willie Walsh noted that France is the lone country in the world following the WHO recommendation by providing free Covid-19 tests. Otherwise, prices for PCR tests, which are the type of Covid-19 test most commonly required by governments for entry, vary widely across and within the 15 other nations IATA surveyed.

The trade group said that in Japan, the minimum price it found for a PCR test at an airport was $278, compared with a minimum of $77 in Australia. In the U.S., airport PCR test prices range from approximately $90 to $250.

Even at a price of $90, testing adds $720 round-trip for a family of four if tests are required on both departure and return. In cases in which destinations also require test upon arrival, that figure could increase to $1,440.

"As a society we just cannot allow that situation to develop where only the rich can afford to travel again," IATA director general Willie Walsh said in Tuesday morning media briefing.

Walsh said IATA is still researching the actual cost to providers that give tests, but it appears to be less than $15 on average.

"People are being gouged by these high prices," he said.

Government, too, are profiting from the tests through taxation, he added.

"If governments are not going to make testing free, at least they must ensure that there is no profiteering by testing companies at the expense of people who just want to get back to some form of normality in their life and travel habits," Walsh said.

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