British Airways considering pre-flight coronavirus tests to boost passenger numbers

Qin Xie
·2-min read
Getty
Getty

British Airways is currently exploring the possibility of introducing pre-flight coronavirus tests through a “third party” in an industry-leading move that could significantly boost passenger numbers.

A spokesperson for the airline confirmed to The Independent: “We are currently discussing the possibility of helping our customers access pre-flight testing through third parties if their destination requires this, however no plans have been finalised. We will share more in due course.

“We are doing everything we can to make travel as safe and stress-free as possible for our customers in these unprecedented times.”

At the moment, many destinations on the FCO’s quarantine exemption list require passengers to have a recent PCR Covid-19 test showing that they don’t have coronavirus. Without the proof, travellers will not be able to enter.

The tests are only free on the NHS if you’re exhibiting signs of coronavirus. They are also available from private companies, but cost upwards of £100, which is deterring many travellers from going to destinations that require the test.

BA’s pre-flight tests are likely to be made available via Boots the pharmacy according to aviation blog God Save the Points (GSTP), citing “well placed sources familiar with the matter”.

GSTP said that given Boots’ ties to the US – it’s owned under the Walgreens Boots Alliance – it’s well placed to offer testing services at a significant number of locations on either side of the Atlantic, and could be used by both passengers and cabin crew.

It could also significantly cut the costs of the test.

British Airways has stressed that the tests will not be made mandatory for all passengers. However, anyone flying to destinations requiring a recent PCR Covid-19 test will need to be able to show proof of this before they fly according to the airline’s current policy.

The airline states on its website: “Each passenger is responsible for checking and conforming with the entry and exit requirements at their arrival and return destinations.

“Requirements may include temperature checks, proof of negative PCR Covid-19 tests or completion of forms. Please be aware that if you fail to comply with these requirements you may not be able to travel or be allowed to enter your destination.”

British Airways has been flying at reduced capacity since the start of the pandemic. At present, it is operating less than 20 per cent of its normal schedule and is going through major cost-cutting measures.

The airline was also among a group of aviation firms asking the government to look at a “nuanced” approach to quarantine to give a much-needed boost to the travel indusry.

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