Heathrow launches £80 twenty-minute airport COVID test amid hopes it will reopen air travel and quarantine will be cut to one week by Christmas
- Heathrow Airport is to offer passengers £80 pre-departure coronavirus tests
- Transport Secretary: Rapid daily tests could lead to end of quarantine altogether
- The UK’s post-travel quarantine time could be halved to seven days by December
Heathrow is to offer passengers £80 pre-departure Covid tests to help get the struggling flight industry off the ground
Heathrow is to offer passengers £80 pre-departure Covid tests to help get the struggling flight industry off the ground.
The news came as it was also revealed that the UK’s post-travel quarantine time could be halved to seven days by December 1.
Speaking to the Airlines 2050 industry summit yesterday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said rapid daily tests could even lead to the end of quarantine altogether.
New facilities in Terminals 2 and 5 will offer swab tests to travellers flying to countries that require evidence of a negative test – with results available in 20 minutes.
Heathrow already has a testing hall for inbound travellers.
Although many countries have adopted pre-take-off tests, Whitehall is putting more emphasis on establishing a ‘test-and-release’ model in which the quarantine time is halved with a single test seven days after arrival.
This has been rejected by some aviation leaders, including new BA chief Sean Doyle, who fear any quarantine will stifle the economy.
Virgin Atlantic boss Shai Weiss said: ‘We urgently need a passenger testing regime in the UK to safely replace quarantine. As long as the 14-day quarantine remains, demand for travel will not return.’
Mr Shapps told yesterday’s conference that officials are exploring a variety of options to boost air travel.
He said: ‘We’re talking to the US homeland security and others. We’d like to get trials set up.
‘That could involve a series of tests that could involve quarantine before and after flights – or ultimately no quarantine at all if the technology is there for a rapid tests. But that requires international cooperation.’
The new testing halls at Heathrow have been set up by aviation firms Collinson and Swissport and are backed by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific.
Although Heathrow has already set up a testing hall for inbound travellers, these will be the first to provide pre-departure tests.
Italy and Hong Kong are among a growing number of places which require arrivals to present a negative test certificate either before take-off or soon after landing.
New facilities in Terminals 2 and 5 will offer swab tests to travellers flying to countries that require evidence of a negative test – with results available in 20 minutes. Heathrow already has a testing hall for inbound travellers
Warning that Britain is ‘on the brink of an economic emergency,’ Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: ‘Many other countries are already using testing to keep their borders safe while restarting trade and travel.
‘These facilities will make it easier for passengers going to those countries to get a test and have the potential to provide a service for arriving passengers.
‘Ultimately, we need a Common International Standard for pre-departure testing, and we welcome the UK government’s recent announcement that it wants to take a global lead in establishing this.
‘We will work with them to make this happen as soon as possible, so that we protect livelihoods as well as lives.’