Collinson and Swissport have announced their facility for COVID-19 testing is set up and ready for use at Heathrow Airport. The facility in Terminal 2 enables arriving passengers to be tested for COVID-19 upon landing and know just hours later if they have tested positive. More than 13,000 passenger tests can be carried out each day using the existing facility, which can be further scaled with demand. It is hoped that with approval from the government, people testing negative during the process will be allowed to exit quarantine early.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Testing will not only avoid the ‘quarantine roulette’ that so many passengers faced in Spain and France, it will also open up flights to key trading partners such as the US, Canada and Singapore.”
The announcement that the testing facility is ready, comes as airport-based COVID-19 testing is embraced by more than 30 countries around the world, helping to get the travel industry back up and running while safeguarding public health. PCR testing at the border has been extensively trialed internationally, in locations with very strong scientific oversight such as Germany, and found to be safe. It has now been rolled out in France, Iceland and Austria and at more than half the world’s busiest airports including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Tokyo Haneda and Dubai International.
The proposed pilot is set to focus on a two-test model, with the first test taken at the testing facility on arrival and then a second confirmatory test to follow a few days after the first. With government approval, travelers who test negative to both tests would then be released early from quarantine.
“The government’s own research shows that a double test has a high level of accuracy in screening for COVID-19. This facility is an oven-ready opportunity to see how Britain can safely reopen for business, as other countries are doing,” said Holland-Kaye.
The UK is now in the position to benefit from the experience of other markets and implement inbound PCR testing to safely restart more of the travel sector including “red” listed countries and long-haul routes. The positive economic impact will be significant. Six more countries were recently added to the UK’s “red” list, including France — the UK’s fourth largest trading partner and the second most important tourist market for the UK.
“Airport testing is still the most viable solution to increasing travel while keeping virus spread low,” added David Evans, joint CEO at Collinson. “We’re pleased to announce that our solution is ready to give a massively needed boost to international trade as well as inbound business and leisure travel, crucial to the recovery of so many sectors.”