El Al to Try Covid Testing at Point of Departure

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at Ben Gurion Airport. (Flash90)

El Al Airlines will begin a pilot program for pre-flight covid screening of passengers bound for Israel from New York, The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

Starting with a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport at 2 p.m. Thursday, XpresCheck, which operates at JFK, will offer the tests at the gate. Passengers also have the option to be tested on the flight itself, in order to avoid the inconvenience of a test upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport.

Under current Israeli regulations, even vaccinated individuals who are not coming from banned or orange countries with special quarantine requirements must take this test and enter isolation until receipt of a negative result or 24 hours – whichever comes first.

El Al said that this is the first time anywhere that passengers will be tested before arriving at their destination.

The screening does not replace the coronavirus test that must be performed 72 hours before boarding one’s flight.

The pilot program comes in response to complaints about long lines and crowding at the arrivals terminal.

“If the pilot is successful,” a representative of the airline told the Post, “it will be extended to additional flights and facilitate easier movement of incoming passengers through the airport.”

The cost of the test should be around 80 shekels, El Al said, similar to the current cost for testing at the airport. El Al will not charge anything additional to provide the service.

“Payment is being made to the professional medical body that performs the test,” the representative said.

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