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Spain's Aena sets up COVID-19 testing clinics in 15 airports

MADRID, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Spanish airport operator Aena will lease out areas for COVID-19 testing clinics in 15 airports’ departure lounges, including in Madrid and Barcelona, the company said on Friday as it seeks to help facilitate travel in the pandemic era.

The diagnostic facilities will provide quick PCR, antigenic and serological tests to detect both active infections and the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, and will have isolation areas for travellers awaiting their results.

Aena will launch the service in airports with the highest volume of international flights, or serving Spain’s key tourism hubs, such as Malaga and Seville on the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands’ Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca airports, as well as the Canary Islands’ four main airports.

The testing clinics will be set up for an initial six-month period, although the contracts - signed primarily with laboratory testing and diagnostics company Eurofins - can be extended until the end of 2021.

“The clinics will be in departure lounges... (for) passengers who will need (tests) in their destination airports, not for those who land in our airports, who will need to bring their tests from their places of origin to pass the health controls in place since May across our network,” the company said in a statement.

The state-owned operator said it hoped the new service would facilitate tourism, as continued restrictions on mobility hurt the industry, which is vital to Spain’s economy.

Over 2020, a year in which global travel was dramatically curtailed, tourism accounted for just 4%-5% of Spain’s GDP, according to estimates from Funcas analyst Maria Jesus Fernandez. That compares with a 12% share in 2019. (Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette, Editing by Inti Landauro and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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