A new rapid testing facility has been launched at Heathrow Airport. Officials at the airport described the testing facilities as an important step in the recovery of the aviation industry. It is also beneficial for reopening routes from the UK to destinations around the world.
Run by Collinson and Swissport, the facilities are located at Terminals 2 and 5
The tests will first offer passengers travelling to Italy and Hong Kong the option to complete the respective countries’ pre-departure needs before flying.
Italy and Hong Kong require travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before departure. For this purpose, these countries allow for testing facilities that can provide quick results. These tests include Lamp and Antigen tests that can easily be undertaken pre-flight at the airport.
These tests differ from RT-PCR, which a growing number of countries require to be shown at check-in. These include Cyprus, Greece, Bahamas, and Bermuda.
Unlike RT-PCR tests, Lamp and Antigen tests can be processed swiftly and without being sent to a laboratory. However, they are considered less accurate than the sensitive RT-PCR option.
John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive, Heathrow, 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 to go 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. We will work with them to make this happen as soon as possible so that we protect livelihoods as well as lives.”
The private test costs GBP 80
For starters, the testing facilities will be open for a month. The private test hopes to provide departing passengers with their results in around 1 hour.
Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic Airlines all fly routes that call for pre-departure tests. Sean Doyle, Chief Executive, British Airways said, “The UK’s economic recovery depends on the swift reopening of the skies and we need a worldwide agreement that fast, reliable pre-departure testing is the safest and quickest way to get people flying again. The latest data from IATA suggests the risk of contracting Covid-19 on aircraft is extremely low. It’s vital we work together as an industry to explore every option to get travel moving.”
However, the government appears to be thinking differently. The newly launched global travel task force is examining how travellers can be tested several days after they arrive in the UK. If the travellers test positive, the quarantine period could be reduced.