British Airways announced that it will test passengers for COVID-19 in an effort to demonstrate that the UK’s quarantine policy should be abolished.
The Airline She says she hopes the data will show that one test 72 hours before the flight is “strong” enough to mean that she won’t have to.
Chief Executive Sean Doyle said there were “very few reports” of transmission on commercial flights and insisted that air travel was “safe.”
He also claims that the UK is “lagging behind” as countries like Germany are adopting tests to replace quarantine measures.
Doyle says BA will test a voluntary testing system in partnership with American Airlines, which includes hundreds of people on select routes from the U.S. to Heathrow.
Passengers will be tested three days before departure as well as upon arrival at West London Airport, and three days after.
However, they will still be required to follow current quarantine rules, even if they receive negative results for all three tests.
Those who test positive for the virus will be able to reschedule their travel for free.
The trial will begin on November 25 for flights from New York, Los Angeles and Dallas – with other airlines likely joining the scheme in the coming weeks – and British Airways said it will share the results of the project with the UK and US governments.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shaps launched a task force last month to develop ways to reduce the two-week self-isolation period with a “test and launch system,” which still involves a self-isolation period of at least one week.
That’s not enough, Doyle says, to get air travel back to the levels it was in in 2019.
He said, “It doesn’t cut it completely.”
“Without a pre-flight test system, we would be locked in a stop-and-start cycle where consumers are unclear about the rules of the game and are not in a position to travel with confidence.
He added that the news was “great news” about the potential Coronavirus vaccines “It shouldn’t really hinder us from dealing with the issues that we need to deal with now.”
He said, “We have availability for testing in a way that doesn’t really reduce testing capacity for health service providers.”
“We have facilities set up in Heathrow. So the solution is staring at us. I just think we need policy clarity.”
Changes to the list of government destinations exempt from quarantine requirements are usually announced only 35 hours before the new rules come into effect.
Transatlantic flights are the key to British Airways’ success.
Before the pandemic, British Airways and American Airlines were flying as many as 111 flights a week from London to New York, but that dropped to just 14.
IAG, the parent company of British Airways, converted into a pre-tax loss of 6.2 billion euros (5.6 billion pounds) for the nine months ending at the end of September.
This compares to 2.3 billion euros (2.1 billion pounds) profit before tax during the same period last year.