Health workers chat during a presentation for the antigen tests
El Al Dreamliner at Ben Gurion Airport
Photo: Reuters
El Al Dreamliner at Ben Gurion Airport

El Al eyes 'COVID-clean' flights for the immune or airport-tested

Israeli flag carrier launches method which could reduce social distancing that limits turnover at airports and cramps passenger comfort, and allow business as usual for duty-free shops and restaurants

Reuters |
Published: 03.08.21 , 16:42
El Al Airlines aims to offer an extra level of COVID-19 precaution by requiring that passengers supplement negative PCR tests either with proof of they are immune to the disease or by undergoing rapid antigen testing before boarding.
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  • The measures, applied to a trial flight on Monday, were tied into Israel's world-beating COVID vaccination drive and post-pandemic planning, which have drawn foreign interest.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    Health workers chat during a presentation for the antigen tests
    Health workers chat during a presentation for the antigen tests
    El Al Dreamliner at Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Like other countries, Israel requires negative PCR tests of incoming and departing travelers.
    But El Al said its evening Flight 003 to New York would be unique in carrying only those who also presented vaccination certificates, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or who passed antigen tests at Ben Gurion Airport. Anyone failing a test would not be allowed to fly, it said.
    "Today's flight is, I think, the first in the world where you will know that you have verified that everyone onboard is certainly clean and non-coronavirus contagious," Leehu Hacohen, El Al's vice president for operations, told Israel's Army Radio.
    Used widely, the method could reduce social distancing that limits turnover at airports and cramps passenger comfort, and allow business as usual for duty-free shops and restaurants.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    A health worker takes the antigen test, developed by Sheba Medical Center,
    A health worker takes the antigen test, developed by Sheba Medical Center,
    A health worker takes a COVID-19 antigen test
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "It'll be possible to open up all of these and go back to or approximate the experience of flight, of terminal commerce," said Hacohen.
    The antigen tests, developed by Sheba Medical Center, take 15 minutes to deliver results and are considered reliable for detecting active coronavirus infection, an El Al spokesman said, adding that the rapid tests kits would be provided to passengers for free, for now.
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