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France to roll out airport testing this month - minister

PARIS, Oct 16 (Reuters) - France will introduce rapid COVID-19 tests at airports this month, the country’s transport minister said on Friday, in a boost for Air France-KLM and other airlines pushing for an easing of travel restrictions and quarantines.

“We’ll put that in place by the end of October,” Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on CNews television.

Airlines represented by their global industry body IATA are pushing for the rapid antigen tests to be administered to all departing international passengers at airports. Such tests are slightly less accurate than lab-based PCR alternatives but allow for last-minute screening.

The measures will only become effective in reviving collapsed air traffic when the scheme is widely used and accepted by governments as a substitute for long quarantine requirements that deter travel.

France will initially offer the tests for passengers bound for destinations including the United States and Italy, Djebbari said, as well as arrivals from countries on its coronavirus red list where infection rates are high.

Testing may begin as soon as next week at Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, newspaper La Tribune reported on its website.

Reporting by Laurence Frost; editing by Philippa Fletcher