London’s Heathrow Airport is the first to carry out rapid one-hour Covid-19 tests before passengers board for travel, authorities announced this week.
Passengers through Heathrow terminals 2 and 5 will be able to be screened for Covid-19 with pre-booked tests costing 80 pounds ahead of check-in. Results are made available in an hour.
According to UK media, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific, which will require pre-departure tests for destinations they service such as Hong Kong, will be the first airlines to offer it.
WTTC applauds pre-flight testing
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) welcomed the introduction of pre-departure testing, which it said will help to “revive international air travel, bring back jobs and resuscitate the global economy. Almost 20 million jobs across Europe could be saved, including three million in Germany, 1.93 million in the UK, 1.91 million in Italy and more than 1.5 million in France”.
“It is very encouraging to see the door beginning to open to allow airport testing on departure. We have been calling for a rapid and cost-effective testing on departure regime at airports around the world for several months now, so this is a step in the right direction,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive.
Guevara went on to add that the WTTC supports “the introduction of schemes at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris, Heathrow in London and the recent trial which took place between Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and Milan Linate”.
The WTTC said it hopes other countries will implement similar initiatives.
“It is imperative that all airports, catering for international travel, implement globally recognized testing standards for both inbound and outbound passengers,” Guevara said earlier this year.
The next step would involve international, reciprocal agreements on testing protocols.
Setbacks on the first day of activation included a refusal by Italy to recognize the tests. The company providing the tests said the UK facility would introduce antigen tests in line with Italian requirements in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said a “test-and-release system” to end quarantine requirements for international arrivals to the UK should be in place by December 1.