While the UK and US governments procrastinate on the issue of tests at airports, Virgin Atlantic has started with their own trial of Covid-19 pre-flight testing at Heathrow for cabin crew and pilots.
At the moment the initiative is available on flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong however there are plans to roll it out to Barbados and then eventually across the fleet. The aim is to test every pilot and cabin crew member at least once a month.
Swabs will be taken at the airport and results will be processed and delivered via an app within 30 minutes.
Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer of Virgin Atlantic, plans to continue discussions with multiple providers and testing technologies.
“This trial is a first step in our phased plan to introduce regular testing for all of our teams in the air and on the ground, in order to instil confidence in flying. However, we continue to call for the swift introduction of a wider coordinated passenger testing regime. We need urgent action from UK and US governments to introduce pre-departure testing, to remove the need for quarantine and to minimise travel restrictions, while protecting public health and half a million UK jobs associated with the sector.
“As long as the UK’s 14-day quarantine is in place, demand for travel will not return and the UK’s economic recovery, which relies on free-flowing trade and tourism, cannot take off.”
As an aside, the airline is offering complimentary Covid-19 global insurance cover with Allianz Assistance for all bookings.
The cover applies to all existing and new bookings travelling from August 24 2020 up until March 31 2021. The policy offers comprehensive cover in the event that a Virgin Atlantic customer or travel companion becomes ill with COVID-19 while on a trip.
International travel remains very low compared with levels before the pandemic. In August, Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, saw fewer than a fifth of the number of passengers it usually does.