Collinson – owner of airport lounge provider Priority Pass – has partnered with ground and cargo handling firm Swissport to propose a new ‘Test on Arrival’ system at UK airports.
The private service would see passengers booking a Covid-19 test before beginning their journey to the UK, which would then be carried out on arrival by Collinson nurses in a Swissport facility with the airport terminal, with the result known within around five hours.
The companies have written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to ask for the government’s support for the programme, which could see it added to an existing list of exemptions for quarantine.
Heathrow is set to be the first airport to pilot the service, but it would require the government to agree to quarantine exemption for trial participants.
Under the proposals travellers taking the RT-PCR swab test would continue to their quarantine address provided at the time of booking to await the result, which, if negative, would allow them to come out of self-isolation.
It’s not clear how much would be charged for the Covid-19 test – a similar service set up at Vienna airport in May costs €190.
As of July 10 travellers arriving from 59 destinations including France, Germany, Italy and Spain will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival, but many countries including the US and Portugal have yet to be exempted from the quarantine rules.
“We launched the tests to help get the travel ecosystem moving again, using science to reassure the public it’s safe to do so,” said David Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson.
“PCR testing is the gold standard of Covid-19 testing, used by the NHS and Public Health England, as it is able to detect the virus even when someone is asymptomatic.”
“We have seen the results of clinical trials using the same testing protocol at other European airports. In these trials, travellers were tested on arrival and again five days later. They showed zero cases of someone testing negative in the first instance and then positive in the second, proving the sensitivity of the tests when carried out on arrival.
“We’re looking forward to working with Heathrow to pilot this science-led approach. Together, we can provide a pioneering solution that will get the travel and aviation sector back on its feet, which will be a massive boost for the UK’s economy.”
Meanwhile Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said:
“The Government made a significant step forward last week by removing quarantine for visitors from many countries, but we still need a solution that safely allows passengers to travel to and from higher risk countries.
“This trial with Swissport and Collinson will provide a much-needed alternative to quarantine for those arriving passengers and should add further momentum to the Government’s push for Common International Standards which are needed for the resumption of global travel.”