Hawaiian Airlines announces drive-thru COVID-19 testing for California passengers

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaiian Airlines is getting on board with pre-travel testing.

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The carrier announced on Sept. 25 that it will offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing near Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) International Airports.

The airline is working with Worksite Labs, which will allow passengers to do drive-thru PCR testing. It will cost $90 for passengers to receive their results within 36 hours, or $150 for a day-of-travel express service.

Hawaiian Airlines said that they hope to start offering the Droplet Digital PCR shallow nasal swab tests around Oct. 15, when travelers who test negative within 72 hours of departure, will be exempt from Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine.

Hawaiian’s labs will be operational near LAX and SFO international airports, with more testing locations coming soon in other major U.S. cities.

The company’s announcement comes one day after United Airlines announced that it would offer same-day testing at SFO for $250, yielding results within 15 to 20 minutes.

“We think it’s really important that people have choices and that there’s competition in the market for tests and that’s going to drive down the price over time,” explained Avi Mannis, who is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Hawaiian Airlines.

Travelers can still get a test at Walgreens, Kaiser Permanente or CVS to bypass the 14-day quarantine.

Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green said that the on-site tests being offered by the airlines are accurate. He expects that more will become available as Hawaii begins to reopen.

He said United Airlines’ offer of a mail-in test option was not approved by Governor David Ige.

“For the governor’s desire, travelers do have to have a test that’s witnessed, and so we’re going to be careful about that,” Lt. Gov. Green explained.

Hawaiian Airlines said that it hopes to resume travel to Las Vegas in October or November and plans on offering pre-travel tests there too.

Both airlines hope to expand their testing to other U.S. cities.

However, inter-island testing is still up in the air.

This week, Gov. Ige gave county mayors the opportunity to decide what policies they want in place to welcome back visitors and if they would like the inter-island quarantine to be lifted before Oct. 31.

“I think we want to wait and see what the policy is,” explained Mannis. “Certainly, it’s considerably more complicated to do testing for inter-Island travel, when you think about the volume of people who in the normal course of the economy travel in our island is a much greater volume.”

Lt. Gov. Green said there were up to 25,000 passengers flying inter-island a day prior to COVID-19.

“I think we would have to be thoughtful as a state about how we’re going to put enough testing capacity in place to make sure that that’s not a constraint,” Mannis continued. “We obviously want to work closely with the state and the counties on whatever we can do to facilitate travel between the islands as well, because we know how important that is to our community.”

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