London City Airport has opened new, expanded testing facilities for travellers to make use of both before and after their journeys.
The new testing centre is located in the main terminal and offers PCR, LAMP and antigen testing.
The rapid LAMP test allows quarantine to be cut from 10 to five days, if travellers have recently visited an amber country, something increasing numbers of business travellers are likely to do as the governments traffic light system stays in place and the vast majority of European countries remain on the amber list.
Developed by Oxford University and approved by the UK Government, the rapid LAMP means travellers with appointments made up until 1600 can be released from quarantine on the same day as taking their day five ‘test to release’, much quicker than RT-PCR tests, which can take 48 hours to turnaround.
Tests will be carried out by Collinson nurses and are available for passengers using LCY, or other airports.
Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport said that the new facility had been opened in the expectation and hope that travel could ramp up in coming weeks.
“We had a testing centre in the terminal which was fine for the volumes we were seeing in the third and fourth quarter, but nowhere need the capacity that we predict will be necessary for the main party of the summer. The old one had four booths while this one has 20 booths and can do 200-250 tests per hour at the peak. It can also be scaled up and down depending on demand.”
Sinclair said that demand will only return if quarantine is removed.
“We don’t know which way this is going to go since it depends on the government, but we do know that it is quarantine that is impacting demand. Our pitch on this is clear: we want the regime to be simple, straightforward and as affordable as possible, and so we would far rather have the testing and eliminate entirely this quarantine which is killing demand to amber countries.”
“We believe there is a strong case to expand the Green list in line with the latest scientific data, and recognise the status of vaccinated travellers with reduced testing and quarantine requirements, particularly for arrivals from Amber list countries. This would boost the industry’s recovery and allow passengers to book their summer getaways with confidence.”
“The new testing area is 10 metres from the entrance to the terminal, right by where the taxi drop-off for the terminal is, and so is perfectly situated for both arrivals wanting to take the Day 2 test, and also for those who need departure testing.”
Both London City Airport and Collinson say that the Global Travel Taskforce should consider the following changes as we approach the traditional peak summer getaway season:
- Trust Testing – the private sector has invested heavily to create a comprehensive, robust international travel testing system that would enable safe travel in accordance with UK Government guidelines. Taken alongside the UK’s highly successful vaccine rollout, we believe that practical, reliable, affordable testing can boost passenger confidence and open up international travel safely.
- Follow the Data – given the vaccine rollout and the robust testing regime, the Government should consider utilising the latest data to recognise the status of vaccinated travellers and facilitate safe travel for British holidaymakers to amber list countries where infection rates are low e.g., Portugal
- Don’t be left behind by Europe – the European Commission has set a clear direction to restart travel by 1st July and is progressing with a Digital Covid Certificate that will be recognised by every member state, enabling travellers to use proof of a vaccination or negative test result to travel safely within the EU.
David Evans, Joint CEO of Collinson which is providing the testing said that Collinson had made great efforts to set up the facilities to cope with the next six months of changing requirements over testing, for both inbound and outbound.
“The full range of tests are available, in myriad combinations. We have Day 2 and Day 8 tests, the Test and Release and LAMP. Optimistically, if double vaccines mean that amber countries go to green for people to visit, then there will be a huge spike in demand for those who travel to those countries but still need to book a test for their return.”
Evans says that for the Day 2 and Day 8 tests, passengers could take the Day 2 test on landing, and then for the Day 8 present either at the London City Airport location, or one of the other Colllison centres including Heathrow, Gatwick, the O2, Stansted, Luton, East Midlands Airport and Manchester Airport. At present Collinson does not offer the ability for the Day 8 to be posted to people in quarantine, though Evens said they were looking at this but concerns over Royal Mail delays has made them wary of doing so.
The opening hours of the testing centre varies depending on the times of the flights and who has booked tests.
All tests must be booked online ahead of time and passengers are reminded not to turn up at the airport without a confirmed appointment.
Test prices start from £33 for a Lateral Flow Antigen and £66 for PCR tests. Same-day result LAMP tests are available for £68. All tests can be booked at londoncityairport.com/test.
London City offers the following prices (with a promotional code of LCYTEST).
|COVID-19 Test||Test Result Time (from the time test was taken)||Price (£)|
|RT-PCR||Within 36 hours||66|
|RT-LAMP||Within 90 minutes||68|
|Antigen||Within 45 minutes||59|
|Antibody||Within 45 minutes||32|
|Test to Release RT-LAMP||Same day||76|
Understanding Testing – what each kind of test means
PCR Testing is the most sensitive test that is currently available, able to detect active infection some days before the patient is infectious or symptomatic. It is the gold standard test; used in the NHS daily. PCR testing takes around 5 hours to be performed, but as assays sometimes have to be repeated, a turnaround time of 48 hours is often given. PCR testing is performed in machines than cycle through different temperatures. As the process of changing temperature takes some time, the process is longer than other processes such as LAMP.
LAMP Testing is another form of genetic test, able to detect the RNA of the virus. It is a more recent development than PCR and is performed all at one temperature. It is generally faster and cheaper than PCR but is not considered to be as sensitive – but is still more sensitive than antigen testing. LAMP tests might be able to detect patients immediately before symptoms are displayed but this is unsure at present. Rapid LAMP testing can add a significant degree of confidence if performed before flying, for example, when all aboard have had a LAMP test prior to departure.
Antigen Testing is the fastest and cheapest of all lab tests for COVID-19. Unlike PCR and LAMP, the genetic material of the virus is not searched for, but rather the protein structures on a virally infected cell produced by COVID-19; usually the so-called ‘spike’ protein. Antigen tests often become positive after having had symptoms for a couple of days. Their use is particularly powerful when patients are attending communal events and a quick check needs to be performed to see if attendees are infectious with COVID-19. Also during winter months, when people often have symptoms of the common cold or flu, performing an antigen test will ascertain whether the condition is the coronavirus or not.
Antibody Testing is a test that looks for the presence of virus antibodies in the system. The presence of antibodies indicates that the patient has previously had COVID-19, as their body has developed the antibodies necessary to fight off the virus. However, a lack of antibodies does not indicate that the person has not had COVID-19, as not every patient develops them, and much is still to be understood about how long the antibodies last in the patient’s system.