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Airport Covid-19 tests until 2023 for passengers and staff

Covid-19 testing services are to be extended at Dublin and Cork airports in the new year with the capability to test passengers and staff for other viruses if necessary, including the flu.

The measures are an indication of plans to manage the fallout of the pandemic into 2023.

Covid-19 testing was introduced at the airports last November for passengers and staff as the travel industry reopened. These plans were initially introduced on a short-term basis and are being expanded to ensure adequate testing is available beyond next year.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), which is responsible for the management and running of Dublin and Cork Airports, is seeking a service provider to conduct on-site PCR and antigen testing.

It wants the PCR test results to be communicated within 24 hours of a sample being taken. Antigen test results are expected to be delivered within an hour.

Tender documents for the new testing contract require labs and technicians to have the flexibility to scale up and down to meet testing demand at all times. Suppliers must also be able to provide “any ad hoc services or requirements as advised by DAA, such as testing for influenza”.

A spokesman for DAA said this will allow the authority add flexibility for any travel-related testing required in future.

The contact has the potential to enable an operator to earn up to €9m next year based on an assumption of 140,000 tests being carried out, he added. 

The authority is seeking to provide Covid-19 testing under a “commercial concession agreement” when the current contact expires early next year.

“If we proceed with a concession contract, DAA would then earn a percentage fee of this. The level of the fee is yet to be determined,” the spokesman said.

The contact is likely to be for 12 months from next February, with an option to extend it into 2024 if necessary.

Despite widespread vaccination, Covid-19 testing will remain a feature of international travel to destinations that require a negative test in addition to proof of vaccination because of high incidence rates, or to countries seeking to mitigate surges in new variants of the disease. Unvaccinated passengers will also be able to avail of testing.

Two private companies, RocDoc Health Check and Randox are providing PCR Covid-19 testing and rapid antigen testing at Dublin Airport. RocDoc provides PCR, rapid antigen and LAMP testing at Cork Airport.

Both of these companies are government approved and provide Digital Covid Certificates. Any company awarded the new contract must also provide certs.

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