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Jakarta Post

Garuda Indonesia to test passengers for COVID-19

  • Riza Roidila Mufti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, April 30, 2020   /   06:08 pm
Garuda Indonesia to test passengers for COVID-19 A Boeing 777-300ER aircraft bearing the livery of flag carrier Garuda Indonesia arrives on April 13, 2020 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. The Tanoto Foundation chartered the aircraft to transport 30 tons of personal protective equipment sourced from Shanghai, China, for donating to medical workers. (Courtesy of Tanoto Foundation/.)

Airline passengers may need to anticipate that the new normal for air travel could require that they be tested for COVID-19 before boarding.

Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is planning to provide rapid testing services for future passengers to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus on airplanes, president director Irfan Setiaputra told a hearing with House of Representatives Commission VI on Wednesday.

“There is a plan that we, along with Angkasa Pura I, Angkasa Pura II and the air transport authority, will conduct [the COVID-19] rapid test for anyone [on] aircraft once flights [resume],” Irfan said, referring to the two state-owned airport operators.

Airlines operating routes in Indonesia have grounded their aircraft to comply with the government’s ban on travel to and from COVID-19 "red zones". The large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) implemented in major Indonesian cities with hub airports has also heavily impacted airline frequency.

Irfan said that the flag carrier had already implemented health protocols including regular disinfection of aircraft, temperature scanning and check-ups for passengers, and onboard physical distancing.

The airline had already suspended its in-flight distribution of newspapers and magazines as well as pillows, and switched to using disposable food packaging for its in-flight meals to prevent indirect transmission through contaminated surfaces and objects. It also plans to provide hand sanitizer for all passengers.

Flag carrier Emirates Airlines of the United Arab Emirates became the first airline in the world to implement on-site COVID-19 rapid testing for passengers on April 15. The serology test returns results on blood samples within 10 minutes.