Portugal To Fine Airlines $22,400 For Carrying Passengers Without Tests

Portugal is preparing new, strict measures to deal with what it is calling irresponsible behavior from airlines that neglect to check passengers’ COVID-19 test certificates. At a press conference on Thursday, the country’s Prime Minister announced fines for operators of €20,000 per passenger that arrives sans negative test results.

TAP Air Portugal Airbus A321 (2)
Airlines disembarking passengers without a negative COVID-19 test in Portugal are now facing heavy fines from the government. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Obligation of airlines to check certificates

As anyone who has traveled over the past year knows, testing regimes for COVID-19 vary strongly between countries. What’s more, they have been inclined to change overnight, sometimes leaving passengers stranded or scrambling for expensive rapid tests at the airport.

Reportedly, even though a country may require a recent PCR or antigen test, some airline staff have not been very diligent with checking certificates, or there has been some confusion as to whose responsibility it is to verify the documents.

On Thursday, Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa, announced that airlines transporting passengers without a negative COVID-19 test would receive fines of €20,000 ($22,400) per passenger. As quoted by the Portugal News, Mr Costa stated,

“Tests are now mandatory for any entry into national territory, whatever the point of origin and whatever the nationality of the passenger. It is the obligation of all airlines, at the time of ‘check in’, to only allow the boarding of flights to Portugal by people who prove to be properly tested and cannot transport anyone who has not been properly tested to Portugal.”

The Prime Minister continued to note that the airlines had not ‘fulfilled their obligation’. Hence, Portugal was changing its administrative framework to apply the per-passenger fines.

Portugal To Fine Airlines $22,400 For Carrying Passengers Without Tests
The government says airlines have not been ‘fulfilling their obligations’ when it comes to checking test certificates. Photo: Lisbon Airport

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Licenses may also be revoked

Measures will not be purely financial, the government warned. The increase in sanctions to combat untested arrivals may culminate in the suspension of flight licenses. Other countries such as China have utilized a ‘circuit breaker’ system throughout the pandemic where airlines have been temporarily suspended after bringing positive COVID cases on incoming flights.

“I would like to leave a very clear message to the airlines: we consider that it is profoundly irresponsible to transport people who are not tested,” Mr Costa said during Thursday’s press conference.

Portugal To Fine Airlines $22,400 For Carrying Passengers Without Tests
The Portuguese Prime Minister said airlines were highly irresponsible to disembark passengers who had not been tested. Photo: Lisbon Airport

Borders will stay open despite new restrictions

While mainland Portugal will enter into a ‘state of calamity’ on December 1st, the government does intend to keep the borders open. Portugal is not yet facing another lockdown like other European countries such as Austria. However, remote work is recommended where possible and mandatory between January 2 and 9. Access to bars and clubs will only be possible through proof of vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative test result, and masks will once more be mandatory in enclosed spaces.

Do you think high fines are the way to go to make certain people do not travel without certificates? Leave a comment below and share your opinion.