Kohli added that Shaikh may have highlighted a gap in the process. “The only viable possibility is apparent impersonation by way of sending an imposter instead of an actual passenger. We’ve since strictly reinforced cross-checking of passports and matching faces by requesting to remove masks to ensure this is further nullified,” he said. “We’ve also ensured restricted access to the testing area by way of checking passport, ticket, and boarding pass before allowing entry, thereby not giving free access to such touts.”
In addition, setting up a testing facility at an airport does not require much investment.
Rapid money The business is so lucrative due to the combination of the contagious virus, multiple countries’ regulations, and a captive customer base. Customers have no choice but to get their tests done at the airport, even with increasingly long wait times, thanks to a burgeoning load of passengers waiting to fly out on multiple flights.
Major airports such as those in the cities of Delhi, Lucknow, and Ahmedabad fly at least five flights to Dubai, each with around 150 passengers. Labs at any of these airports clock at least Rs 15 crore (US$200,625) in revenue every month through rapid RT-PCR tests. Passengers are charged anywhere up to Rs 3,500 (US$47) for a single test.
“A lab charges its markup, and then there is a revenue-sharing agreement with the airport, which garners a 30-35% share,” said the Neuberg executive. In addition, setting up a testing facility at an airport does not require much investment. The tests are run on a machine manufactured by Abbott, called Abbott ID Now. The machine, the size of a toaster, costs nearly Rs 2.5 lakh (US$3,500) and can deliver results within 13 minutes.
For instance, a test in an Abbott machine will only run on a test kit
However, each ID Now machine can process only one swab sample at a time. Labs at airports deploy multiple machines. According to the information sourced by The Fortiva, each test costs the lab anywhere between Rs 1,600 (US$22) to Rs 2,000 (US$27).
For instance, a test in an Abbott machine will only run on a test kit supplied by the company that comprises a test base, a sample receiver, a transfer cartridge, and a swab costing up to Rs 2,000 (US$27), all of these components are non-reusable. Only two companies—Abbott and Thermo Fisher Scientific—supply rapid RT-PCR machines to airports currently. Abbott has deployed its machines at 12 airports as of now, a senior industry executive directly aware of the matter told The Fortiva.