Emirates has become the first airline to pre-screen passengers for coronavirus before boarding planes.
In a hint of what air travel might look like after travel bans relax, the airline conducted a trial of rapid blood tests on passengers boarding a flight to Tunisia on Wednesday. The tests were undertaken by the Dubai Health Authority with results available within 10 minutes. The speed of which makes it practical to include as part of the check-in process.
On Wednesday passengers on the service to Algiers were taken into the Group Check-in Area at Dubai International where the tests could be conducted with adequate social distancing.
Passengers were required to wear their own PPE for the tests and during flight, and provide blood samples to the DHA workers.
"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, said Adel Al Redha, chief operating officer for Emirates.
The DHA's director general Humaid Al Qutami, said they were glad to work with the airline on the "successful implementation of rapid COVID-19 testing at the airport for departing travellers." Saying that solutions to the crisis and the challenges of international travel would require close cooperation between private companies such as Emirates and government organisations.
While Emirates did not disclose the cost per passenger, the speed is an impressive aspect.
This rapid blood test, which could be rolled out for other flights, might become a regular part of air travel if other airlines adopt the measures.
At Dubai International airport the process of check-in and travel is already altered drastically. Protective barriers have been installed at luggage counters with PPE and hand sanitiser provided to all staff.
Carry-on luggage has been reduced to a single laptop, handbag or suitcase, with all other cabin baggage across all classes to be checked-in to the hold.
Emirates has removed printed reading material from planes and the airline says its food service and packaging has been "modified" to reduce contact and cross contamination during serving.
Additional disinfection measures are also being conducted on aircraft between services, says the airline.
"The health and safety of staff and passengers at the airport remain of paramount importance."
On 24 March the airline suspended its New Zealand services until at least June 1.
As of 15 April, Emirates is only running a limited passenger service out of Dubai, with flights to London, Frankfurt, Manila, Chicago, Algiers and Taipei.