PORTLAND, Maine — Rapid COVID-19 testing for travelers is becoming a reality at airports in Tampa, Florida, and San Francisco.
Beginning next month, United Airlines will offer the testing for travelers going from San Francisco to Hawaii.
And throughout the entire month of October, Tampa International Airport will offer testing to travelers arriving or departing, regardless of airline.
While this is not available in Maine right now, the Portland Jetport is exploring several options to help test arriving passengers. The airport director said testing is key to restoring customer's confidence in flying, as passenger volume is still down significantly from this time last year.
"The impacts of the pandemic have been significant on aviation," said airport director Paul Bradbury. "We do think testing is one of the pathways to correct that."
As of now, Bradbury is not aware of any plans and does not expect any of its airlines to provide this type of rapid testing at the Jetport.
However, he said they are evaluating several options to assist in the testing of arriving passengers and hope to have more information in the next few weeks.
"We need people to travel and people need to feel safe to travel," he said. "And part of that and part of the restarting aviation and continuing to grow is to have the test available for a quick, seamless ability to travel again."
According to the latest numbers, the average outbound passenger volume compared to this time last year is down 68 percent at the Portland Jetport.
At Bangor International Airport, passenger volume is down 69 percent.
At both airports, this is an improvement from the month of April when numbers were down 96 percent and 95 percent respectively from the same time period the year prior.