Russia Looking to Establish Coronavirus-Free Transport Hubs for Global Travel – RDIF CEO

Sputnik, 14.07.2020

MOSCOW, July 14 (Sputnik) - Russia is currently looking at the possibility of establishing three coronavirus disease-free transport hubs, located in other countries, that will allow for the resumption of global travel, which itself is a vital component of the world’s economic recovery amid the ongoing pandemic, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev wrote on Tuesday.

In an op-ed published by the US magazine Newsweek, Dmitriev said that boosting testing capacity, particularly at airports, will be vital in allowing international leisure travel to resume.

"Because the cost of testing represents a tiny fraction of potential economic losses, we are currently undertaking pilot projects in three countries to create virus-free airport hubs that would allow tourism activity to safely resume," Dmitriev wrote.

The key to this success will be a rapid testing system developed by Russian-Japanese firm EMG, which can give results in just 30 minutes, the RDIF head said.

"Rapid, accurate tests like ours will be essential to opening up the world economy. They can vastly ease international air travel, for example. They will soon be used in airports across the globe," Dmitriev wrote, adding that getting passengers traveling across borders is a "trillion-dollar issue."

In July, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the global tourism industry at least $1.2 trillion. The losses have been particularly felt by European countries such as Greece and Spain, where tourism comprises more than 15 percent of GDP.

The airline industry has also been heavily affected, as leading flag carriers have required billion-dollar government bailouts. The International Air Transport Association has estimated that airlines will suffer $84.3 billion in losses in 2020 amid a huge fall in revenues.