Emirates becomes world’s first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 testing

The largest airline in the Middle East has become the world’s first to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 testing for passengers. Emirates, the UAE’s flag carrier airline, in coordination with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), carried out its first round of tests on 15 April ahead of a flight to Tunisia. The airline is now working on scaling up testing capabilities, it said in a statement.

Consisting of a small blood test, passengers were tested by DHA specialists in the group check-in area of Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 with results being confirmed within 10 minutes. In terms of passenger and employee safety, protective barriers have been installed at each check-in desk, the airline has confirmed, while masks, gloves, and the use of hand sanitisers have been made mandatory for all airport employees. Passengers, meanwhile, are required to wear their own masks at all times, and not allowed to take hand baggage on-board the aircraft.


“The testing process has gone smoothly and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the DHA for their initiatives and innovative solutions. This would have not been possible without the support of Dubai Airport and other government authorities,” said Emirates COO, Adel Al Redha. “We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights; 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. The health and safety of staff and passengers at the airport remain of paramount importance.”


Beginning 6 April, Emirates has been granted approvals to operate a limited number of flights to carry outbound passengers from the UAE. The first flights post-lockdown were to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich.

After each journey, each aircraft reportedly undergoes enhanced cleaning and disinfection in Dubai.

Keen to quickly identify those affected, the UAE government has implemented mass testing programmes across the emirate, with the country ranking third in the world this week in terms of screening per capita, with a total of 648,195 coronavirus tests.

Meanwhile, the UAE has ranked in the global top ten for COVID-19 treatment efficiency in a new report by Deep Knowledge Group, with the same report showing the country as the 18th safest in the world. Israel, Germany and South Korea are the top three safest. 


HE Humaid Al Qutami, director-general of the DHA, commented: “We are glad to work with Emirates on the successful implementation of rapid COVID-19 testing at the airport for departing travellers. 

“To tackle COVID-19, we have been proactively working with various governmental organisations and the private health sector, and we have implemented all necessary measures from public health protection to provision of high-quality health services in line with the latest international guidelines. We believe strongly that the most effective solutions require close partnerships with other public and private sector organisations.”

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