On 15th April, Emirates became the first airline to carry out pre-flight COVID-19 tests. Passengers underwent a rapid blood test at Dubai International Airport before a flight to Tunisia. Emirates worked with the Dubai Health Authority in order to carry out these tests. It is uncertain how many people travelled and were tested, but Emirates’ Boeing 777 was used for the flight, which has a capacity of over 300 passengers.

Reports state that the rapid tests used on this occasion showed results in only 10 minutes. It is probable that this rapid test determined the presence of antibodies related to COVID-19. By conducting these tests, Emirates will be able to provide passengers with COVID-19 certificates to allow them to enter other countries.

Emirates airline plan to increase the scale of testing for COVID-19 in the coming months. The United Arab Emirates has the third highest testing rate in the world, having performed around 650,000 tests.

Since 15th April, Emirates have run limited services to London, Frankfurt, Manila, Chicago, Algiers and Taipei. The airline has put other protective measures in place such as making it a requirement for passengers to wear facemasks, removing reading materials, altering packaging on food to reduce contamination, and preventing passengers from bringing cabin baggage onto planes.

These safety precautions and rapid COVID-19 testing before boarding flights could be a potential avenue for reintroducing air travel.

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