British Airways has become the first airline to trial a new ultra-rapid Covid-19 antigen test which displays results within 25 seconds.
The carrier will initially invite flight and cabin crew members to take the Pelican Ultra Rapid Covid-19 test, and will compare results against their standard tests which staff members are already taking.
The tests have recently been approved for use in Europe and the UK, and are currently going through US FDA approval. BA said that “The test is a non-invasive saliva ultra-rapid digital antigen test that delivers 98 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2”.
Users “take a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake and insert it into a re-usable digital reader which is connected to a blue-tooth enabled device like a smartphone, and then wait for the results that appear through a mobile app”.
The carrier also said that the test “probes for both the S and N SARS-Cov-2 protein”, and “is optimized to detect variants that have originated across the globe”.
BA said that subject to successful evaluation it hopes to be able to offer the test technology “on routes where tests have to meet the stated specificity and sensitivity standards”.
This week rival UK carrier Virgin Atlantic announced a new partnership with UK health firm Prenetics to offer at-home tests and packages based on the UK’s new traffic light system.
Raj Reddy, CEO of Canary and inventor of the Pelican technology said that the firm had developed the test “with the travel industry in mind where speed, accuracy and ease of use are paramount”.
Meanwhile Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman and CEO, commented:
“As we start to see the opening up of travel we remain committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again, whether it’s for business, to reunite with family and friends or take a much-needed break abroad.
“We think this new ultra-rapid test is a game changer so we are delighted to work with the team at Canary to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.”
British Airways recently announced plans to trial new intelligent queuing technology to manage the flow of travellers at the airport.
Declan Pollard, BA’s head of Heathrow customer experience, said that in the Covid-19 era “many people will feel unfamiliar with the airport journey, so we are committed to exploring how technology can simplify that experience for them”.