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Emirates becomes first airline to conduct rapid Covid-19 tests on passengers

In a limited passenger service, Emirates has also banned cabin baggage and installed protective screens for check-in staff

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Emirates A380. Photo: Deposit

Emirates A380. Photo: Deposit

Passengers being tested for Covid-19 before boarding an Emirates flight

Passengers being tested for Covid-19 before boarding an Emirates flight

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Emirates A380. Photo: Deposit

Emirates has begun testing passengers for Covid-19 before boarding flights with results available within 10 minutes, the airline says.

Passengers on a flight from Dubai to Tunisia were all tested for the coronavirus today, in conjunction Dubai Health Authority (DHA), it announced.

The "quick blood test" was conducted by the DHA at Dubai International's Terminal 3 Group Check-in area, the Gulf carrier added in a statement.

It said it was the first to conduct such tests.

"We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights," said Adel Al Redha, Emirates Chief Operating Officer, who said the testing process had gone "smoothly".

"This will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require Covid-19 test certificates," he added.

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Passengers being tested before boarding an Emirates flight this week.

Passengers being tested before boarding an Emirates flight this week.

Passengers being tested before boarding an Emirates flight this week.

It comes as aviation reels from the impact of cornavirus-related travel restrictions, with fleets grounded at a cost of some $252 billion in revenue, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In another glimpse of what air travel may look like in the near future, airports in Hong Kong and Seoul, South Korea, have been screening passengers for coronavirus as they arrive - although traveller volume is vastly reduced at this time.

Most of Emirates' network is on pause, but it recently re-commenced operation to London and Frankfurt, and this week revealed plans to operate passenger services to Jakarta, Manila, Taipei, Chicago, Tunis, Algiers and Kabul.

The services are designed to facilitate residents and "visitors wishing to return home", it said. Only citizens of the destination country and those who meet the entry requirements are allowed to board.

Other changes include bans on cabin baggage, the removal of online check-in, an enhanced cleaning service and a lack of print reading material such inflight magazines.

Carry-on items permitted in cabins are limited to laptops, handbags, briefcases or baby items.

Airline lounges are not available, and an adapted meal and drink service onboard is designed to minimise "risk of interaction", it says.

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